Taiwan becomes first Asian country to create same-sex marriage bill

Participants pose at the square outside the presidential office before the start of a gay pride parade in Taipei, Taiwan on October 27, 2018.

Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to create a same-sex marriage bill.

The country‘s cabinet will discuss the legislation on Thursday (February 21) before sending it to parliament for review on the same day, cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka told Reuters.

The bill, which according to Taiwanese news site Up Media is called “Interpretation and Enforcement of Act No. 748 of the Court,” has been created to follow a 2017 court ruling ordering the parliament to legalise marriage equality.

If no law is passed by May 24 this year, same-sex couples in Taiwan will become the first in Asia who are legally allowed to wed. The parliament is expected to vote on the bill in May, ahead of the deadline.

Head of the cabinet in Taiwan speaks out in support of LGBT+ people

Premier Su Tseng-chang, who is in charge of Taiwan’s cabinet, posted a message on Facebook on Wednesday (February 20) to voice his support for the bill and for LGBT+ rights in general.

The premier, who was appointed last month, said that homosexuality was “natural, not a disease, not contagious—and it is not possible to make heterosexual people gay.”

This picture taken on November 15, 2018 shows Su Tseng-chang, New Taipei mayor candidate from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), waving during the elections campaign in Tucheng district, New Taipei City, Taiwan.

Su Tseng-chang, who was appointed Premier of Taiwan in January 2019 (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty)

The Premier urged parliament to pass the bill “as soon as possible,” before calling on everyone in Taiwan to accept each other.

“I also want to say to fellow countrymen, whether you are heterosexual or gay: we are all in the same country, all together live on this land, all in the same heavens and the earth,” he wrote.

“Make Taiwan a country of mutual respect and friendliness.”

— Premier Su Tseng-chang, who leads the cabinet of Taiwan

“I sincerely expect everyone to be inclusive, accept differences and treat each other well. Make Taiwan a country of mutual respect and friendliness.”

Taiwan moves to legalise same-sex marriage after damaging referendum result

In November, 72 percent of voters backed a ban on marriage equality in a referendum triggered by a public petition process.

But just days after the result, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang clarified that referendums could not be used to overturn rulings issued by the country’s highest court.

Premier Tseng-chang reiterated this position in his Facebook post, writing that though Taiwan’s parliament “must respect the results of the referendum,” the court’s decision took precedence.

Two participants pose during the annual Taiwan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride parade in Taipei, Taiwan on October 29, 2016

Taiwan would be the first country in Asia to legalise marriage equality (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty)

“The Executive House, as the highest administrative organ of the country, must be in accordance with the law,” he said.

“It is more necessary to comply with the interpretation of the law of the court.”

On Facebook on Wednesday (February 20), the country’s President Tsai Ing-wen wrote that “there may be different views on same-sex marriage: people of different generations, different religious beliefs, different values, but in the protection of rights, society gradually has basic consensus.

“The focus of the current stage is on what legal form to guarantee. I believe that the executive council will treat the interpretation of the judge and the results of the referendum with wisdom.”