May 25, 2017
Taiwan made history yesterday, becoming the first nation in Asia to legalise gay marriage.
The country’s Constitutional Court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was a violation of their personal freedoms and equality, declaring sexual orientation an “immutable characteristic” that would not and could not change. The government has two years to interpret and implement these new laws.
The fight for equality was long fought, with many, like gay-rights activist and plaintiff in this case Chia-Wei Chi petitioning for decades— and there are still battles ahead. In addition to numerous counter-appeals and counter-protests against the ruling, activists fear that the legislature will introduce a union distinct from traditional heterosexual marriage.
The landmark ruling could hold greater sway for mainland China than similar laws in Western countries, due to shared language and similar cultures. This has been seen before in similar circumstances, most notably Spain’s 2005 ruling, which set a precedent for other Spanish speaking countries, like Argentina, Columbia and Uruguay, which quickly followed suit and legalised same-sex marriage. While homosexuality is not illegal in mainland China, it isn’t openly accepted either. Just last week a group of mother’s were ‘kicked out’ of Shanghai’s marriage market, after attempting to find same-sex partners for their children.
Regardless of what the future holds, yesterday was a landmark moment for human rights, and once more the international gay community celebrates Taiwan as a leader in the movement towards a more inclusive future.