By Audrey Zhang
On Friday, May 17, Taiwan legislature passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, a major milestone in Asian history. It has been almost two years since Taiwan’s Constitutional Court declared that their civil code’s definition of marriage stating it was only between a man and woman, was unconstitutional. The Court was given two years to make any changes to the law, but either way, after those two years, same-sex partners would be allowed to legalize their marriages with local authorities and possess the same rights as straight couples. The only exception is that same-sex couples can only adopt a child genetically related to one of them.
On that Friday, thousands gathered on the streets of Taipei to celebrate the historic accomplishment. Whether they had plans for marriage or not, giving couples this option is a demonstration of how people in Taiwan took an influential step towards equality.
Although Taiwan is the first to legalize same-sex marriage in Asia, the road to this achievement has not always been smooth. Many religious groups, legislators, and anti-gay marriage groups had long opposed the idea of same-sex partners marrying. The LGBTQ community took a major blow last late November of 2018 when a controversial referendum that concluded that the majority of Taiwanese voters reject gay marriage.
The law went into effect on May 24, and hundreds of couples all over the island, including some that have been together for decades, have already taken the opportunity to tie the knot as soon as they had the chance.
Taiwan hopes that its actions will influence other Asian countries to take steps into giving gay and lesbian couples more equality. Although Taiwan’s government has passed this legislation, Mainland China has a history of censoring LGBTQ influence in books and movies. Even though being queer is legal in China, the LGBTQ community often faces harsh discrimination and many prejudices. The Chinese government claims that this may be because it is not a cultural tradition. But the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan is a monumental achievement for Asian gay rights activists, and it does give many the hope that one day, every country in the world will recognize that love is love, and that everyone deserves the same rights.