Published: Mon, May 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Taiwan parliament begins discussion of landmark same-sex legislation

Taiwan parliament begins discussion of landmark same-sex legislation

Scores of gay rights supporters gathered in Taipei to await the landmark ruling.

Taiwan's conservatives had proposed their own version of the bill which did not use the word "marriage".

But gay rights groups have said they were willing to accept compromises, as long as the new law recognized the concept of marriage, adding they could fight legal battles over surrogacy and adoption down the line. Just $5 a month.

Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen said the bill showed that "kindness and conscience" were still held as strong values on the island.

"If these kinds of people can be more visible, happening in our everyday life, I think that will be quite good", said Shiau Hong-chi, professor of gender studies and communications management at Shih-Hsin University in Taiwan.

In a move that has set a precedent, Taiwan has become Asia's first nation to approve same-sex marriage.

Many held colourful umbrellas or rainbow-coloured placards reading: "The vote can not fail".

The referendum, which did not impact the supreme court decision to legalise same-sex marriage, favoured defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

The bill comes after Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in 2017 that laws banning same-sex marriage violated citizens' personal rights.

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The bill will also allow same-sex couples to adopt each other's biological children, but not adopt non-biological children.

Victoria Hsu is the founder and executive director of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights and gave us her reaction.

The capital city Taipei is home to East Asia's largest gay pride parade - an event that regularly draws tens of thousands of participants.

In mainland China, where homosexuality is legal but prejudices and discrimination against LGBT people persist under Communist Party rule, an author of same-sex erotic fiction was sent to jail for 10 years in November.

Despite that, news of Taiwan's new law was a major trending topic on social media in China, with more than 100 million views on the Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo.

Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people's will. "From the point of view of the children, they have the right to grow up with both a mother and a father".

After holding a series of referendums, the majority of voters in the country rejected the idea of same-sex legislation, insisting that the definition of marriage was a union between a man and a woman.

There were some violent protests and some threatened to pull support from candidates who backed the new law. Parliament was given a two-year deadline - May 24 - to revise the laws.

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