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Fi­nally, Asia is all set to open up to ac­com­mo­dat­ing same sex mar­riages with Tai­wan plan­ning to take the break­through ini­tia­tive. LGBT rights have for long re­ceived a favourable re­cep­tion from the Tai­wanese peo­ple and le­gal­is­ing gay and les­bian mar­riages had for long been a mat­ter of dis­cus­sion.

It was n 26 De­cem­ber 2016 that Tai­wan's leg­is­la­ture for­mally adopted an amend­ment to the coun­try's civil code that may just pave the way for le­gal recog­ni­tion to same sex mar­riages. If there are no un­ex­pected road­blocks, Tai­wan might ust open the doors in Asia for a more lib­eral out­look on is­sues of LGBT rights, which are, world over, seen as es­sen­tial hu­man rights.

In Tai­wan, it was in the 1980s that gay rights be­came an im­por­tant dis­course with le­gal en­deav­ours be­ing made in this di­rec­tion. In the late 1980s, of­fi­cial re­quests were made to the Tai­wanese gov­ern­ment to per­mit same sex union. On 7 March 1986, Tai­wan's noted LGBT ac­tivist Chi Jia-wei held the first in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on mar­riage equal­ity, and since then, over the next three decades, ac­cep­tance of LGBT rights has seen a ma­jor surge among the coun­try's peo­ple. Wei's ap­peals to courts and to gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, how­ever, kept see­ing re­jec­tions.

But in 2006, Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) leg­is­la­tor Hsiao Bi-khim in­tro­duced a bill to le­galise same sex mar­riages and in 2013, a same-sex mar­riage bill was drafted to es­pouse the prin­ci­ple of “di­verse fam­ily for­ma­tion”. Three years later, it was pro­posed in the leg­is­la­ture that the words “male and fe­male par­ties” in the mar­riage chap­ter of the Civil Code should be re­placed with “both par­ties”, a step that was seen to give ma­jor boost to sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion equal­ity. The call to change the civil code found fur­ther

sup­port from leg­is­la­tor Hsu Yu-jen from the op­po­si­tion party Kuom­intang (KMT) and the New Power Party (NPP) cau­cus.

Those sup­port­ing mar­riage equal­ity give the ar­gu­ment that choos­ing a part­ner is part of one's hu­man rights and pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights should rightly be a uni­ver­sal en­deav­our. How­ever, there is also a sig­nif­i­can­looby of con­ser­va­tives who are op­pos­ing the move.

Com­pris­ing mostly or­tho­dox Chris­tian groups, this lobby be­lieves mar­riage equal­ity may not au­gur well for the tra­di­tional fam­ily sys­tem, with chil­dren get­ting per­plexed about how to ad­dress their par­ents prop­erly.

Asia has been lan­guish­ing in the area of mar­riage equal­ity and LGBT rights even though as many as 21 coun­tries in Europe and Amer­ica have al­ready le­galised same sex civil unions. Top among them are Ar­gentina, Bel­gium, Brazil, Canada, Colom­bia, Den­mark, France, Iceland, Ire­land, Lux­em­bourg, Mex­ico, the Nether­lands, New Zealand, Nor­way, Por­tu­gal, South Africa, Spain, Swe­den, the United King­dom, the United States, and Uruguay. In many other coun­tries in the west, the pub­lic ve­he­mently sup­ports mar­riage equal­ity.

In Asia, no coun­try so far has le­galised same sex part­ner­ship

even though Tai­wan has for long been seen as a gay friendly coun­try. In 2003, the Tai­wan Pride pa­rade made global head­lines be­cause of the out­pour of sup­port from the com­mon man, some­thing which was seen as un­usual in an Asian set up. UP. On 29 Oc­to­ber 2016, the pride pa­rade in Tai­wan again made head­lines by see­ing a record turnout of 82,000 peo­ple.

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