Homosexuals will now be officially listed and protected under the Domestic Violence Prevention Law (
Two lawmakers cited the movie Brokeback Mountain in arguing for the change.
The existing law defines "domestic" as "husband and wife relations, spouses and ex-spouses, parents, family members, or blood and non-blood relatives."
Legislators from the Judiciary Committee questioned that definition, asking whether homosexuals were included in those categories and protected by the law.
Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (
According to the Civic Law (
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Kuo Lin-Yung (郭林勇) said that homosexuals had long been neglected in a society where heterosexual marriages were dominant.
Although gay marriages are not yet legal in the country, more attention should be paid to gay rights, Kuo said.
"They [homosexuals] have been derided, persecuted and constrained in the past, but now they have begun to speak out, allowing their problems to surface and be known," he said. "Therefore, they must now be equally protected by the law."
The amended law should explain clearly that homosexual couples are included under the category of "family members," so that social workers, police and other authorities would understand, Kuo added.
He said gay relationships were often more intense and gay individuals may easily become victims of domestic violence. Without protection from the law, many end up committing suicide because they have no way to seek help, he added.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) added that the concept of "family" traditionally referred to heterosexual couples and that the decision made at the review session was a breakthrough for gay rights.
Huang said the new amendments should add that members of families could be composed of any sex.
Both Kuo and Huang said the award-winning movie Brokeback Mountain had positively influenced the public to be more aware of homosexual issues and problems.
The review session also made progress toward canceling a handling fee for protection orders. A NT$1000 (US$31) handling fee has posed a problem for many victims of abuse, who could not afford to apply for protection.
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