Thu, May 17, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Celebrating sexual equality worldwide

We have legalized same-sex marriage. Here is our story:

Seventeen years ago, the Netherlands made a huge step toward the full recognition of the rights of LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people] by allowing them to marry the persons they love, just like anybody else.

Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa and Sweden quickly followed in the footsteps of our Dutch friends, along with Denmark, France, the UK, New Zealand and Luxembourg. Most recently, the US, Germany, Finland and Australia — and soon Austria — joined the list of countries acknowledging that love simply is love.

Did marriage equality raise a lot of discussions in our parliaments, our courts, our societies? Yes, to some extent. Has it threatened social cohesion since then? No, quite the contrary.

By legalizing same-sex marriage, we have seen the financial, psychological and physical well-being of LGBTI people enhanced. Children of same-sex parents can now be raised by couples whose union has been supported by our institutions.

These benefits accrue to society as a whole, which has also become more open and tolerant. As a matter of fact, polls have consistently shown wide support among our citizens for same-sex marriage.

Same-sex couples are not different from opposite-sex ones. They work, pay their taxes, take responsibilities in society and take care of their children, parents and families. They have the same rights as all other citizens, including access to government services and legal protections such as inheritance or hospital visitation rights.

In a way, excluding LGBTI from marriage stigmatizes them and invites public discrimination against them. This is not what our leaders and our citizens wanted.

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Today we commemorate the WHO’s decision, 30 years ago, to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Today we celebrate all the steps, legal and societal, that have been taken to defend and promote the rights of LGBTI worldwide, and the dedication of courageous activists who have made these changes happen.

As representative offices in Taiwan, we have consistently acknowledged that Taiwan stands at the forefront in Asia and in the world on LGBTI rights.

We have witnessed how Taiwan Pride has become a reference for Prides on this continent and beyond. We have seen grassroots movements and the arts industry working hard to advance equal rights for the LGBTI community.

Most importantly, we have seen the Constitutional Court [Editor’s note: the Council of Grand Justices] issuing a landmark ruling on same-sex marriage just over a year ago, which offers Taiwan a unique opportunity to show the world its commitment to human rights.

If we had to sum up our experience with marriage equality, it would be by answering one simple question: Do we want a society in which our present and next generations are truly happy?

We have realized that the answer is equally simple: Love is love, no matter who the individuals are.

All of us have the same basic needs and should enjoy the same basic rights. This includes the right to get married and live happily ever after.

Endorsed by the Austrian Office Taipei, Belgian Office Taipei, Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, Trade Council of Denmark Taipei, European Economic and Trade Office, Business Finland, French Office in Taipei, Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in Taipei, Netherlands Trade and Investment Office, Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Business Sweden, and British Office Taipei.

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