Taiwan is poised to become the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage after the death of a prominent gay professor. The country is already regarded as one of the most progressive in the region when it comes to equal rights and there is already some legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
Taiwanese lawmakers are currently working on three bills in support of marriage equality, one of which is already listed for review and could be passed within months. Same-sex marriage also has the prominent support of President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female head of state.
The movement gained traction when injustice was done in the suspected suicide case of Jacques Picoux. Picoux was a gay professor living in Taipei; last year, his partner of 35 years died of cancer. Unfortunately, because the laws didn’t reflect society accurately, Picoux was banned from making end-of-life decisions for his partner. Not just that, but when his partner died, Picoux had no legal claim to any of their shared property.
Following his death, LGBT groups in Taiwan demanded a change to the law with the Taiwan LGBT hotline saying: “How many more human lives do we have to lose as a result of the government’s gross negligence?”
Pride Watch Taiwan called Professor Picoux’s death a ‘pivotal moment’ for the gay rights movement.
Taiwan would join Canada, Colombia, Ireland, the United States and 16 other countries that have legalized same-sex marriage over the past 15 years, according to the Washington, D.C.-based LGBT rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign. But it would be a notable exception among Asian and Middle Eastern countries, at least 20 of which continue to ban same-sex intercourse.