Marriage equality on the cards for Taiwan

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Two women were married in a Buddhist ceremony in Taiwan last weekend, in the first known ceremony of its kind to be held in the country.

While no Asian countries have actually fully legalised marriage equality, Taiwan – along with Vietnam and Nepal – is one of the few that have taken a forward-thinking stance on the issue, with legislation pending for nearly a decade.

If the bill is passed, Taiwan will become the first Asian country to legalise marriage equality.

The two women in question, Huang Mei-yu and Yu Ya-ting, were joined together in a ceremony conducted by a female Buddhist master and activist, Shih Chao-hui. The couple have been together for seven years.

A Buddhist nun, who attended the ceremony, told the Jakarta Globe: “I think this is their human right. They can choose freely to get married and we should respect them.

“It makes no difference if couples are heterosexual or homosexual, as long as they are in love and they are happy.”

LGBT rights and marriage equality are not new to Taiwan. In August 2011, 80 lesbian couples were “married” in a mass ceremony in downtown Taipei. Though this was technically illegal, no action was taken against the event. Asia’s biggest gay pride parade has also been held in Taiwan since 2003.

CNN reported that in 2006, when he was mayor of Taipei, the now Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou said “gay rights are part of human rights.”

However, since he took office in 2008, he has failed to address the subject; but several commentators have pointed out that legalising marriage equality is an issue that’s unlikely to be high on the list of government priorities at the moment.

During a visit to the country back in May, former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, said that equal marriage was “a distraction” in the current presidential campaign, and it was the economy that was most important.

Elsewhere in Indo-China, the possibility of equal marriage being legalised in Vietnam is growing strong; according to USA Today, the country’s justice ministry said it was going to consider the inclusion of same-sex marriage when marriage laws get rewritten in 2013.