Responding to the news that lawmakers in Taiwan have passed a law that will see the island become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, effective from May 24, Annie Huang, Acting Director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said:
“Taiwan has today made history in the fight for equality for LGBTI people. Love has won over hate, and equality has won over discrimination. This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
“We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region.
“We are filled with pride and joy that from next Friday same-sex couples in Taiwan will be able to marry and finally have their love and relationships recognized as equal under the law. But the Taiwanese government must not stop here; it needs to act to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identities and intersex status.”
On May 17, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan voted in majority to pass the draft law called “The Enforcement Act of the Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748”. The law is due to take effect on May 24, 2019.
Under the new law, same-sex couples are granted the same right to legally marry as opposite-sex couples, and many of the same rights and obligations applied to opposite-sex couples under the existing regulations in the Civil Code will be applied to same-sex couples.
However, the law falls short of genuine and full marriage equality in some areas. For example, it does not provide equal adoption rights for same-sex couples. The law only allows spouses in same-sex marriages to adopt the biological children of their partners, but not joint adoption of non-biological children, as permitted for opposite-sex married couples.
In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled that the existing law covering marriage discriminated against same-sex couples. The court gave the legislature two years to amend existing laws or pass new legislation to legalize same-sex unions.
After the government submitted the now adopted proposal, two “compromise” same-sex union bills granting lesser rights by legalizing “cohabitation” or “partnership” were proposed by anti-LGBTI groups and politicians and submitted to the parliament for adoption. The two bills were rejected.
Amnesty International believes that the human rights to dignity and equality require that marriage rights for same-sex couples are guaranteed on the same basis and with all the same rights as marriages between couples of opposite sex.