On May 24, the Taipei High Administrative Court will issue a ruling which could make Taiwan the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, says The China Post. The ruling follows years of campaigning for same-sex marriage by local LGBTQ advocates as well as opposition by homophobic Christians who have sought to associate same-sex marriage with incest, bestiality and AIDS.
The court case originated from Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay activist whose 2013 attempt to register a marriage with his partner in Taipei were rejected. Taipei city officials had apparently received lots of other requests for same-sex marriages over the last decade, with confusion on how to handle them. The key confusion comes from the fact that the country’s Civil Code describes marriage as between a man and a woman whereas the country’s Constitution guarantees “all citizens, irrespective of sex … shall be equal before the law.”
If the court rules in favor of Chia-wei, the parliament will have to amend Taiwan’s laws and offer legal protection to same-sex couples, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. However, activists prefer that the parliament do this rather than create a separate set of laws that could inadvertently create a separate and unequal system of second-class same-sex marriages.
The announcement of the court ruling date follows the recent viral video of a gay marriage proposal between Hsieh Cheng Lung and his partner of seven years. You can watch their subtitled proposal video below:
The May 24 court decision could help bring marriage equality much more quickly than the long, ongoing parliamentary battle that has been happening for over a decade. Though Taiwan is one of the most pro-LGBTQ Asian countries — its military allows openly lesbian and gay service members — it has no laws allowing same-sex couples to adopt or blood donations by men who have sex with men.
All the same, several special counties and municipalities in Taiwan offer a registry for same-sex couples that provides a few limited local benefits. The country’s annual pride parade is also the largest in Asia and their government is considering a ban on so-called gay conversion therapy.
(Featured image by imtmphoto via iStock Photography)