Taiwan could be set to ban harmful gay ‘conversion’ therapy as a draft regulation has been published by the country’s government.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare published the draft regulation which could come into effect as soon as March.
It would outlaw the practice of attempting to change a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
Taiwanese people can offer opinions on the draft regulation for 30 days from its publication on 30 December.
After the consultation period, the ministry will issue a regulation taking into account opinions and based on the origial draft.
The regulation would be added to the Physicians Act, which subjects doctors who engage in banned treatments to fines and possible suspensions.
“Sexual orientation is not an illness,” the head of the ministry’s department of medical affairs Shih Chung-liang said.
The regulation draft was first proposed back in June by the Taichung City’s Gender Equality Committee which took objection to some medical professionals attempting the widely condemned practice.
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The Committee suggested that gay ‘cure’ therapy should be prohibited by medical professionals.
The move comes as Taiwan’s Legislature passed a measure to legalise same-sex marriage through its Committee stage which activists hope will pave the way for same-sex marriage to become legal in the country.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Caucus Whip in December said that the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Taiwan “will be passed” in 2017.
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?”