Taiwan Pride: Our fight for marriage equality

Written by Mei-Nu Yu and Yiching Yang. Legislator Mei-Nu Yu is a Taiwanese politician. She holds a Master degree from National Taiwan University and is a PhD candidate at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Germany. Yu has served as part of the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s parliament)  since 2012. As a well-known human rights lawyer, Yu was the first female President of Taipei Bar Association. She was one of the founding members of Awakening Foundation, the first organization of women’s movement in Taiwan and founding president of the National Alliance of Taiwan Women Association. Alongside her advocacy for women’s rights since the 1980s, Legislator Yu has been a long  and active supporter of marriage equality in Taiwan.

Yiching Yang is the deputy director of Legislator Yu’s office and responsible for the legislation of same-sex marriage. She holds a Master degree in building and planning from National Taiwan University.

After a long battle, same sex marriage was finally legalised in Taiwan on 17 May 2019, and parliament was asked to pass the change within the following week. In this special issue, Taiwan Insight shares the experiences of those who witnessed this historical moment and looks at some of the driving forces that led to this momentous breakthrough.

On 17 May 2019, Taiwan passed the same-sex marriage bill, becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. In doing this, it became the only country in the world to experience three different pathways in the fight for marriage equality: Our Grand Justices made the Interpretation in 2017, we held a referendum in 2018 and, finally, the Legislative Yuan passed the law in May.

Same-sex marriage over the past 60 years

Homosexuals have long been a part of Taiwanese society but have been excluded from family life through discrimination and ignorance. While this situation is unfair and in violation of human rights, there have been attempts to change it. In 1958 a lesbian couple inquired with the notary public office of court about the possibility of having a civil marriage. In 1986, a gay couple requested Taipei District Court for a civil marriage and filed a petition to the Legislative Yuan. In 2000, they unsuccessfully requested the Grand Justices of the Judicial Yuan for interpretation.

A bill on “the Human Rights Basic Law”, passed by the Presidential Human Rights Advisory Committee in 2003, clearly stated the protection of the rights for same-sex marriage, forming a family and adopting children. However, this bill was never passed in the Executive Yuan and thus never introduced into Legislative Yuan.

It has been 13 years since the first same-sex marriage bill was proposed by Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim in 2006. However, it was not passed in the Procedure Committee at Legislative Yuan. In 2012, Legislator Mei-Nu Yu proposed a draft to amend the Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage. Legislator Yu proposed the bill again after she kept her position in the 2016 parliamentary election. In the past seven years, there have been eight draft bills proposed by legislators of different parties. Read more via Taiwan Insight