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It might be surprising, but there are no countries in all of Asia where same-sex marriage is legal. That may change soon, though — Taiwan is looking at making marriage equality legal on a national level.
Right now, some Taiwanese jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to register as partners. Queer people in Kaohsiung, Taipei and Taichung first got this recognition in 2015, and as 2016 rolls on, more and more cities and counties have joined the march towards equality.
As we know, registering partnerships (or, as we knew it in the United States, “civil unions”) isn’t the same thing as real marriage. For example, in Kaohsiung, registering your partner only applies in civil documents — but it’s not applicable to health care.
Thankfully, Taiwanese politicians are realizing that love is love. Legislators are expected to file a new marriage equality proposal by the end of this year. (A previous proposal had been submitted last year, but didn’t go through.)
This time, however, Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-Wen, is an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights — and has been for years. And at least 71 percent of Taiwanese citizens want marriage equality, too.
One other thing may convince Taiwan to finally allow gay marriage — but unfortunately, it’s a sad one. Jacques Picoux, a gay professor living in Taipei, is suspected to have committed suicide; last year, his partner of 35 years died of cancer. But because of a lack of legal protections, Picoux wasn’t allowed to make end-of-life decisions for his partner — and when his partner finally passed, Picoux had no legal claim to their shared property.
When the news about Picoux came out, many Taiwanese citizens saw the gross injustice. Pride Watch Taiwan called it a “pivotal moment” in the fight for gay rights. On Monday, October 24, a bill was drafted to add protections for LGBTQ people in family law.
With the current Taiwanese political climate changing for the better, it’s no wonder marriage equality is one of the major forces behind the upcoming Mr. Gay Taiwan competition.
Or, as Igor Schuerkogel, director of Mr. Gay Taiwan, said, “The more voices we have for the LGBTIQ community the louder our call for equality will become.”
Drag queen Bouncy Babs of Taipei adds, “To live your life open and free should not be a hindrance to anybody. We are all different… yet the same.”
With these new developments — and well-spoken advocates like these — the smart money is that the bill will pass once it’s proposed.
(Featured image via Shih-Shiuan Kao/Flickr)