Taiwan Becomes First Asian Nation to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

On May 17, Taiwanese lawmakers voted 66-27 to legalize same-sex marriage, making Taiwan the first Asian nation to take such action.

Parliament was obligated to change the law after the nation’s constitutional court ruled in 2017 that Taiwan’s civil code barring gay marriage was unconstitutional. The court gave lawmakers two years to replace the code. But this was met with public backlash, which pressured the government into holding a series of referendums.

In his Washington Update blog last November, Tony Perkins highlighted Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei, who told his church’s leaders that no law can change God’s design for marriage. “While the church does not condone discrimination,” Shan-chuan said. “We cannot support same-sex ‘marriage’ and same-sex unions. The legalization is … not in line with our teachings.”

A referendum in November 2018 showed that the majority of voters in Taiwan disagreed with legalizing gay marriage, saying that the definition of marriage was the union of one man and one woman.

Tseng Hsien-ying, from the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, told New Delhi Television, that lawmakers “trampled on Taiwanese people’s expectations that a marriage and a family is formed by a man and a woman.”

While conservative lawmakers had submitted two bills that referred to gay partnerships as “same-sex family relationships” or “same-sex unions.” Taiwan’s ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), influenced Parliament to pass a third bill, which was the only one to use the term “marriage.”

“This is going to cause a lot of morality problems,” said Lin Shih-min, who is with the Taiwan political action group Stability of Power, which opposed the law. “Children … have the right to grow up with both a mother and a father,” he said.

The new law not only recognizes same-sex marriage, but gives gay couples many of the tax, insurance and child custody benefits available to heterosexual couples. However, adoption is still restricted for same-sex couples, banning them from adopting children who are not blood relatives.

Conservatives are concerned that the new legislation could lead to incest, insurance scams and children confused by having two mothers or two fathers.

Many expressed their frustration on social media. “This is the death of democracy,” Liu Yan wrote on Facebook. “Seven million people voted against same-sex marriage in the referendum and their votes meant nothing.”

According the CIA World Fact Book, Christians comprise about 4 percent of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people.