In May of 2017 the Taiwanese Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage as a human right. This decision gave the Taiwanese government 2 years to amend the current marriage laws or pass a new law to legalize same-sex marriage. The government has been slow to make any moves regarding this decision. Recent changes to Taiwan’s Referendum Act have made this issue even more decisive.
The changes came in January and included a lowering of the voting age for referendums from 20 to 18. It also lowered the requirements for calling referendums significantly. These changes not only enfranchise more voters, but additionally give more control over decisions to the public. This is ostensibly a great thing, however these powers can also be used for evil. They have most recently been used by conservative Christian groups to fight against marriage equality.
Many groups have come together under the banner of the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance. This group is composed almost entirely of conservative Christians in Taiwan. Christians make up around 5 percent of Taiwan’s population. While this is a small minority, it seems to be quite vocal. It was reported that over 300,000 people showed up to a rally in Taipei to support the group and its message, though these are self reported numbers and could be much less.
The recent resolutions were to inquire if Taiwan should abolish education about homosexuality in schools as required by the Gender Equality Education Act (性別平等教育法). It also asked whether people believe that same-sex marriage should be granted by means other than amending the Civil Code.
Some of the groups of the members of the group have said that they would agree to civil partnerships, a statement that people in America also heard spouted from conservatives. There is probably a reason that these groups often sound so close to their western counterparts. A US based group has been pushing its ideas in Taiwan.
MassResistance, an anti-gay group based in Massachusetts, has been trying to get a foothold in Taiwan. MassResistance has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They have often spewed many of the disgusting lies that many such groups do, such as same-sex marriage will lead to bestiality. These disgusting and erroneous talking points are far too familiar to many who experienced the same-sex marriage debate in America.
It should also be mentioned that there are affirming churches in Taiwan that oppose these hateful groups, and they should be remembered, and all Christian groups shouldn’t be lumped together as hateful, close-minded individuals. They should actually be welcomed as long as allies as long as they support common goals of equality. As mentioned earlier these groups, divided as they are only make a small fraction of the Taiwanese populace and thus have a small contribution to the overall vote, though they have a over-sized voices.
Taiwan currently has over a 70 percent approval for marriage equality. This can most visibly be seen at the annual Taipei Pride Parade which draws hundreds of thousands every year, and is one of, if not, the biggest pride parades in all of Asia. Taiwan also has the most forward thinking position of same-sex marriage in Asia. When the same-sex marriage laws are finally implemented in it will be the first country to do so in Asia.
Taiwanese people need to keep fighting hard for more equity on the island, and those abroad need to give their support where they can. While China moves backwards and other Asian nations do the same or stagnate, Taiwan should be the bastion of progressive ideals in Asia and hopefully in the world.