Taiwan: Thousands rally for same-sex marriage
Supporters flooded the streets of Taiwan in a bid to urge the government to change the country’s stance on same-sex marriage.
Thousands of gay rights supporters marched through central Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city, yesterday (July 11).
Marchers rallied between parliament buildings and the headquarters of Taiwan’s two leading political parties, months ahead of the country’s elections, during which equal marriage is set to be a deciding factor for many Taiwanese voters.
Protesters waved rainbow flags, lit candles and shouted “gay votes are still votes”.
Same-sex marriage is fast becoming a “bigger electoral cause for voters,” rally organiser Victoria Hsu told Reuters.
“Young people in particular are fed up with politicians’ silence,” she said.
Polls show a majority of Taiwanese are in favour of same-sex marriage and are supported by a recent study commissioned by the Ministry of Justice that advocated legalisation.
A change in the law would make Taiwan the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, and many hope this would cause other nations to review their own stance on the issue.
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“Taiwan society has reached the point of acceptance of gay marriage,” said protester Rafael Tsai.
“It’s a shame our politicians don’t seem to be on the same level as the people.”
Although Taiwan is one of Asia’s most gay-friendly places, there is still no formal recognition of same-sex relationships, with many blaming China’s influence on the island.
The rally has not yet garnered a response from the mainland – which views the island as little more than a rebellious province – but has warned it will use force to bring Taiwan under control, if necessary.
Chinese cities have a vibrant gay culture and the LGBT communities there face little overt discrimination, but the government has detained activists as part of a broader crackdown on civil society, and many fear the is little chance of legalising gay marriage anytime soon.
The marriage equality bill – which would legalise same-sex marriage and allow married gay couples to adopt children – was reviewed for the first time at the Judiciary Committee in December last year, after the main opposition – the Democratic Progressive Party – described current laws as discriminatory and unfair.
However, the discussion was put on hold, due to opposition from conservative Christian groups who have formed a network to organise rallies and petition signature collections to lobby against marriage equality.
A survey conducted in Taiwan in November revealed that 68% of the country are in favour of same-sex marriage.