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Today, Feb. 21, saw Taiwan make history, as the first-ever Asian gay marriage bill was submitted to parliament. The bill follows a lengthy series of events in the island nation that saw local LGBTQ civil rights come close to being a reality before facing the possibility of not taking shape after all. Now, while much of Taiwan’s LGBTQ community is rejoicing that the time for queer civil rights is finally taking concrete shape, some lawmakers and activists believe this first Asian gay marriage bill falls short.
This first Asian gay marriage bill was drafted in order to comply with the nation’s high court ruling from May 2017. The court had deemed the Taiwan Civil Code unconstitutional for failing to recognize marriage equality, and in its ruling told parliament that it must pass a gay marriage law before two years’ time.
That deadline, May 24, is now fast approaching.
But Taiwan also suffered what at first glance appeared to be a setback in November 2018, when a public referendum placed marriage equality on the ballot and a majority of Taiwanese locals shot down the option of amending the Taiwan Civil Code.
The public’s voting, however, does not hold enough sway to counteract what Taiwan’s high court had ruled: marriage equality is coming to Taiwan, one way or another.
Now that this first Asian gay marriage bill has been offered up to the Taiwan parliament, lawmakers from both political parties will spend the next days and weeks debating and voting on the bill.
Here’s why some are saying this first Asian gay marriage bill falls short
While on first glance the bill appeared to be exactly what the local LGBTQ community of Taiwan needed, activists and some lawmakers have since come out saying the bill falls short.
The bill, named 748 (after the number of the Taiwan high court’s May 2017 ruling), is acknowledged to attempt to both appease the high court and also respect the public’s decision in last November’s referendum.
Instead of altering the Taiwan Civil Code, which would continue to define marriage as between a man and a woman, the bill instead recognizes “permanent unions” between gay people, which creates a “separate but equal” problem:
[The law allows] two persons of the same sex to create a permanent union of intimate and exclusive nature for the committed purpose of managing a life together to realize the equal protection of the freedom of marriage.
Despite falling short, some local activists deem the bill acceptable as long as it retains that “marriage” structure.
The bill also does not grant equal adoption rights to gay couples. Though it would allow a gay person to adopt the child of his or her spouse, two gay people are still not allowed to adopt a child jointly.
Yu Mei-nu, a legislator of the ruling progressive party, says, “The bill is acceptable, though the bill isn’t so perfect.” She also says, “The bill may be the most possible way to give almost-equal rights to same-sex spouse.”
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang (a position falling under the president) has said of the bill, “Controversies are expected about the proposal, but I really hope our homosexual friends can wait a bit longer. This might fall short of expectations, but after all, it’s a start. … We have already seen the beam of light, and it will be brighter at one day.”
What do you think of this first Asian gay marriage bill? Are you excited to see marriage equality finally make its way to Taiwan?
Featured image by Reuters/Tyrone Siu/File Photo