First in Asia: Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage

Supporters say the new law’s not perfect, but shows progress . . .

Taiwan’s Constitutional Court has ruled to legalize same-sex marriage, just in time for today’s International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. While the new law stops short of granting the full rights afforded to straight couples, advocates say it is an important step forward. Two years ago, the same court determined that Taiwan’s civil code definition of marriage – as that between a man and a woman – was unconstitutional. That decision prompted a referendum last November in which voters rejected the court’s ruling. The referendum was non-binding, however, and the new law will go into effect on May 24.

Will others in Asia follow suit?

While there is a patchwork of laws related to the rights of LGBTQ people throughout Asia, overall the region has been less tolerant than other parts of the world. So far, the media in Mainland China has said little about Taiwan’s decision. However, as of Friday, “Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage” was one of the top search terms on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Alignment with Canadian policy . . .

Activism around LGBTQ issues has been gaining strength across Asia. This has created an opening for strengthening Canada-Taiwan relations, given Canada’s progressive trade policy. Canada also co-chairs the Equal Rights Coalition, an intergovernmental body for advancing LGBTQ rights. The 40-member group does not include a single Asian country or territory. Perhaps with Taiwan’s recent decision on supporting same-sex marriage, that will change.