Opinion

No excuses. Taiwan is ready
for same-sex marriage

Gay couples and wedding guests will gather in front of the Presidential Office today for a traditional banquet aimed at pressing for same-sex marriage and equal rights to civil partnerships.

Based on proper wedding invitation etiquette, we should therefore request the pleasure of your company for this one-of-a-kind celebration that will highlight the amendments proposed by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), which are to be delivered to the Legislative Yuan later this month.

In case you would decline this invitation, however, we should invite you to “agree to disagree” on the meaning of marriage and move forward with equal rights for everybody. This popular phrase referring to the resolution of a conflict should for sure be the starting point to ensure that couples enjoy not only the support of their families during their wedding but also the support of the law whatever their choice is.

Rights for same-sex couples have been improving in countries around the world, such as France, the UK and New Zealand, and it is time for Taiwanese authorities to ensure equal rights for gay people. Since 2001, over a dozen countries have passed bills to legalize same-sex marriage, and the US Supreme Court ruled this June in favour of gay rights by recognising that married gay couples are eligible for federal benefits.

What about Taiwan? The Republic of China is often considered one of the more liberal countries in Asia in terms of homosexual rights; Taipei even hosts one of the largest gay pride parades in Asia each year. According to the TAPCPR, 53 per cent of Taiwanese people surveyed favor the legalisation of same-sex marriage — twice as many as a decade ago.

To the 37 per cent of people who oppose the proposition, though, we should point out that gay couples (like all other couples) mostly worry about the future of their children, whose status is not protected by the law.

With this in mind and following three years of study and research, the alliance drafted amendments to the Civil Code that aim to better protect everyone's right to form a family. These will be forwarded to the Legislative Yuan with the assistance of several lawmakers from across party lines, including Hsiao Bi-khim, Cheng Li-chun, Yu Mei-nu and Lin Chia-lung.

The campaign, which started Sept 7, 2012, has so far collected over 100,000 signatures in support of the amendments. Among the supporters are pop diva Chang Hui-mei, better-known as A-Mei; the members of girl group S.H.E; pop singer Elva Hsiao; and actress and singer Rene Liu. All agree that the conventional bedrock principle of family, defined as the union of individuals of the opposite sex, cannot stand.

To the contrary, love and marriage should not be restricted to heterosexual couples, and marriage licenses should grant the same rights to all. There is no excuse for saying that gay marriage is not necessary because Taiwan's society is “not ready.” The real question is whether you are ready to join in tomorrow's Ban-Doh celebrations — the most popular form of outdoor feast to celebrate important events in Taiwan. Let's agree upon that at least?

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