The same-sex marriage law and the nation’s first same-sex newlyweds show the world that Taiwan is a free, equal and diverse society in which different people live together in peace, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.
Su made the remarks while inspecting the construction of a medical building at Pingtung County’s Hengchun Tourism Hospital.
He said that 526 same-sex couples registered for marriage on Friday, the day that the Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748 (司法院釋字第748號解釋施行法) went into effect.
“The entire society was joyful and sent well wishes to the newlyweds as they found happiness,” he said. “Even [US talk show host] Ellen DeGeneres, whose The Ellen DeGeneres Show, has about 70 million fans worldwide, praised [the legislation] in a post.”
DeGeneres on Friday said in a Twitter post: “Taiwan is now the first Asian country to allow marriage equality. Let’s celebrate every step in the right direction.”
Last week, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt and US Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders each congratulated Taiwan on social media, he said.
The compliments meant a lot to Taiwan and the posts put a global spotlight on the nation, Su said, adding that the joy showed in other nations should encourage Taiwanese to feel that “even though we might be different, we all live in the same country, and we can live happily in this free and equal country that is Taiwan.”
According to Ministry of the Interior statistics, 185 of the couples that registered on Friday were gay couples, while 341 were lesbian couples.
New Taipei City registered the most couples at 117, followed by Taipei with 95 and Kaohsiung with 72, the statistics showed.
Fifteen couples were composed of a Taiwanese and a foreign national.
Asked yesterday about Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu’s (韓國瑜) claim that people at Cabinet-level meetings were discussing how to derail his administration, Su said the accusation was perplexing, as President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has put a lot of effort into bridging the development gap between the nation’s north and south.
The Cabinet last month gave the Kaohsiung City Government NT$400 million (US$12.69 million) to demolish an overpass to facilitate the municipality’s plan to move its railways underground, he said.
As Han and Kaohsiung’s two deputy mayors were absent when the subsidy was announced, maybe Han was unaware of it, Su said.
The central government earlier this month pledged to build Kaohsiung’s planned Ciaotou Science Park (橋頭科學園區) and approved NT$80 billion to build another line for the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit system, he said.
“I do not know the pressures that Han is under... It is okay for him not to know where Bhutan is or if Switzerland is a member of the UN, but he should know about the subsidies that the central government generously gives to Kaohsiung,” he said.
Han on Friday during a media interview said that Taiwan should follow the example of Switzerland, which “also has not joined the UN,” and aspire to become a permanently neutral nation so that Taiwan could become a haven where wealthy people could deposit their savings.
Additional reporting by CNA
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