Same-sex marriage passes first hurdle in Taiwanese Legislature

Same-sex marriage could soon become a reality in Taiwan, as a bill to legalise it has passed a Parliamentary Committee.

The Committee in Taiwan’s Legislature passed an amendment to include same-sex marriage in the Civil Code of the country on Monday.

The passage of the amendment is the first step in legalising same-sex marriage.

Article 972 will add the paragraph stating “an agreement to marry between people of the same-sex shall be made by two parties involved”.

This is in addition to “an agreement to marry shall be made by the made and the female parties themselves.”

Other amendments include the rights and duties which will be applied to same-sex couples who marry, also passed.

The country’s parliament will debate the amendments in what activist hope will mean Taiwan will be the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage.

Despite some opposition from Christian groups, supporters hope that if legalised in Taiwan, other Asian countries will follow.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Caucus Whip earlier in December said that the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Taiwan “will be passed” in 2017.

The country is one of the most progressive in Asia on LGBT rights, providing some LGBT rights protections and allowing some limited recognition of same-sex relationships.

Ker Chien-ming said that he holds no “loathing for homosexuality”, and that the bill will be passed after a legislative committee on 26 December, and in the next legislative session.

He said the bill would go for a third reading in the general committee after the December hearing.

HIs own party’s legislator Yu Mei-nu has taken a leading role in pushing for equality in the country.

President Tsai Ing-wen said following protests in favour of the bill: “Let’s not treat the people around us as enemies,”

Lawmakers in the country are hoping to push further on equality issues – with politicians from the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) last month filing a bill that would legalise same-sex weddings.

The bill would change the definition of marriage to specify it is between two people, rather than between a “man and woman”.

As the legislation heads towards Parliament, hopes are high that it could pass – making Taiwan the first country in Asia to permit same-sex couples to marry. The country’s President,  Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, previously expressed support for equal marriage.

There is some opposition to the legislation, however, primarily from Western-inspired fundamentalist church groups, who have some influence in the region.

The anti-LGBT Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan has vowed to protest the change.

The group’s head Chang Shou-yi fumed: “What gay activists want is for their lifestyle to be affirmed by society, but why do they need to change the traditional institution of marriage, which goes back thousands of years?”