Taiwan Has Become The First Country In Asia To Legalise Same-Sex Marriage
The Debrief: A turning point for LGBT rights in Asia?
In a first for Asia, Taiwan’s top court has ruled in favour of same-sex marriage. The decision comes as a huge breakthrough for LGBT campaigners and supporters in the country. Taiwan is famous for its liberal values, hosting one of the biggest prides in Asia each year but has faced mass protests by conservatives against same-sex marriage there in recent months.
The highest Court in Taiwan ruled that the current laws in place preventing members of the same sex from marrying violated their right to equality and were unconstitutional. They went on to say that 'disallowing two persons of the same sex to marry, for the sake of safeguarding basic ethical orders constitutes a different treatment with no rational basis.'
This ruling gives parliament two years to amend existing laws or to pass new ones. What this means in practice is that Taiwan's parliament could opt to amend the existing marriage laws and allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights as opposite-sex couples. The other less desirable option for the LGBT community is the creation of a new law which will recognise same-sex marriage, but with limited rights in areas such as adoption, inheritance and parenting.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in any other country in Asia but there are more than 70 countries in the world where even homosexual acts are illegal, including India, Indonesia and Singapore. While this ruling is a hugely positive step forward for Taiwan, the state of LGBT rights in the rest of the Eastern Hemisphere is looking considerably bleaker. In Indonesia’s Aceh province, police are planning to deploy a new taskforce targeting LGBT citizens, news which comes as two gay men in the area were publicly flogged in the last week.
In South Korea, an army captain has been given a suspended prison sentence for having gay sex with a fellow soldier. Human rights groups have criticised the ruling as regressive and intimidating, and the soldier is reported to be receiving treatment for shock.
Over in Australia, same-sex marriage also hasn’t yet been legalised, despite findings showing overwhelming public support for it. In a simple but totally brilliant act of defiance, Ben & Jerry’s have banned serving two scoops of the same flavour until it is legalised. They have also fitted their Australian shops with post boxes so that people can send postcards to their MPs, showing their support for a same-sex union. Their position is simple; 'make marriage equality legal! Love comes in all flavours!'
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