Sun, Nov 29, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Taipei Watcher: Marriage equality just a matter of time

A new poll shows that Taiwanese overwhelmingly support marriage equality. Now it’s time for our elected officials to catch up

By Eddy Chang  /  Staff reporter

Participants from home and abroad hold giant rainbow flags during the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade in Taipei on Oct. 31.

Photo: REUTERS

Last month, over 80,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their supporters marched in the 13th Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade (台灣同志遊行). Turnout was historic, as the parade has become the second largest LGBT event in Asia and the Middle East, after the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade.

A number of events were also held last month to celebrate LGBT pride, including the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival (台灣國際酷兒影展), the Hand in Hand Asian LGBT Choral Festival, which featured over 150 vocalists from around the world, and the ILGA-Asia Conference, the largest of its kind in Asia with 300 activists from over 30 countries.

In the past, most foreign participants were from neighboring countries. But this year, many hailed from the West. According to the Taiwan LGBT Pride (台灣同志遊行聯盟), organizer of the parade, over 5,000 foreign participants took part in the parade and related international events. And thanks to the foreign media’s coverage, the parade successfully boosted the global visibility of Taiwan’s LGBT community.

“The Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade is a famous international event. I want to be part of it to show support,” said Father Silas of the Romanian Orthodox Church during his visit to Taipei. Silas posed nude for the Orthodox Calendar this year to protest homophobia and show his support for the LGBT community.

Meanwhile, some presidential and legislative candidates promised to protect LGBT rights should they be elected.

OVERWHELMING SUPPORT

On the day of the parade, the Ministry of Justice completed the nation’s largest online vote to date on same-sex marriage, which will serve as a reference for policymaking. More than 310,000 people participated in the three-month vote, which was held between Aug. 3 and Oct. 31 on the government’s Public Policy Network Participation Platform (公共政策網路參與平台).

The poll revealed that 59 percent support legal protection for same-sex couples, 71 percent support a same-sex marriage act and 45 percent support a same-sex partnership act, where gay couples are offered certain rights enjoyed by married couples, instead of full marriage rights.

These figures clearly show that support for same-sex marriage has surged to a new high compared with a 2013 poll.

TIME TO ACT

For that poll, the ministry commissioned the Police Research Association (中華警政研究學會) to conduct a study on the feasibility of same-sex marriage legislation. The results showed that 53.7 percent of respondents agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, and 61.1 percent said that married same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.

In response, the association recommended that the ministry push for marriage equality legislation.

However, when the legislature commenced discussion of the draft bill for marriage equality last year, not only did the ministry ignore the association’s recommendations, it also called same-sex marriage “an ethical violation of human relations” in its report to the legislature.

With the results of this new poll showing support for marriage equality increasing from 53.7 percent to 71 percent within a few years, will the ministry continue to groundlessly criticize it while ignoring public opinion?

Some politicians and officials claim that Taiwanese are not ready for same-sex marriage. But the results of the ministry’s own polls clearly show that the majority of Taiwanese are. It’s about time our politicians faced up to this reality.

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