Mon, Oct 24, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Stagnating on marriage equality

By Johnny Hsieh 謝國榮

Jacques Picoux (畢安生), a French national and retired lecturer on French language and literature at National Taiwan University, was last week found dead outside his home. Last year, his partner of 35 years, Tseng Ching-chao (曾敬超), died of cancer. Unable to marry the man he loved, Picoux now joins him in the afterlife, where they can be together once more. That it came to that is truly tragic.

Just prior to this, actor Lee Tien-chu (李天柱) invoked God’s name during a Golden Bell Awards ceremony and said that homosexuality would lead to the destruction of humankind, in comments immediately criticized in Taiwan.

I am a Christian, but I feel that in the past few years the Christian church in Taiwan has systematically opposed homosexuality, and so Lee’s comments came as little surprise.

Those who support the legalization of same-sex marriage mainly say that people are entitled to equal rights, while those who oppose it mostly say that it would lead to the break down of the traditional family and traditional marriage. So who is qualified to define what marriage is?

On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled in a constitutional interpretation that same-sex marriage was legal, a major step for marriage equality.

The UK also passed legislation allowing the legalization of same-sex marriage, which was officially implemented in March 2014.

Will Taiwan follow their example? When will Taiwanese accept homosexuals?

Denmark became in 1989 the first country to officially register homosexual partnerships. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

The current global trend is that more people, regardless of race, gender, age, social status or religious affiliation are becoming accepting of same-sex marriage. In 2005, only 28 percent of people in the US were in favor of marriage equality; by 2013 this had changed to 50 percent.

However, the mainstream Christian stance, and this includes in Taiwan, remains conservative and resistant to change.

In Taiwan, groups against gays and certain sections of the media have set out to demonize homosexuals, accusing them of wild parties, drug abuse and promiscuity, as if heterosexuals would never engage in such activities.

Those opposed to same-sex marriage say that children raised by same-sex couples are denied a father figure or a mother’s love, and that this could somehow define their sexual orientation.

However, surely that argument falls flat when you consider that most homosexuals were born to heterosexual couples and perhaps raised in those families. Is love only love when it is between a man and a woman?

In Taiwan, how many unhappy couples, married or otherwise, are there? Is it really true to say that extramarital affairs or relationships ending or divorce are extremely rare occurrences among heterosexuals in this nation?

People opposed to homosexuality and marriage equality want to pretend these people do not exist, but wishing something away does not make it disappear.

In Taiwan, homosexuals are a minority group and the legalization of same-sex marriage should be seen as a fundamental human right; indeed, it should be constitutionally guaranteed.

In 2013, during a visit to Brazil, Pope Francis said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The pope went on to say that there is nothing in Catholic teaching that would suggest that anyone should be subjected to prejudice or rejection as a result of their sexual orientation and that all people should be treated equally.

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