Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) groups and more than 2000 demonstrators assembled outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday to urge lawmakers to make Taiwan the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.
Led by a coalition of LGBT advocates from the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) and other groups, the demonstrators demanded that the “Marriage Equality Amendment” be applied to the Civil Code by the end of the current legislative session in December.
The rally followed a month-long campaign by the groups to get legislators to publicize their stance on same-sex marriage and took on a jubilant tone, with colorful banners draped across a stage on Qingdao E Road next to the Legislative Yuan and large rainbow flags flying from the rooftops of buildings nearby.
At one point, demonstrators danced in unison to a satirical techno remix of homophobic remarks made by Kuo Mei-chiang (郭美江), a Christian pastor who gained notoriety among netizens after characterizing homosexuality as “an interpretation of witchcraft” in a sermon last year.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) attended the event to show her support.
As convener of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, Yu vowed to organize public hearings for the cause this month, while also restating her wish to place the amendment on the committee’s agenda during her term as convener.
DPP legislators Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) and Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) also attended the event. Along with Yu, the three lawmakers unlocked “locks of homophobia” attached to the fences outside the legislature by the activists in a symbolic gesture to promote understanding.
Approval at committee stage is required before the amendment can be voted on at the legislature’s plenary session.
LGBT activists see a “difficult battle” ahead, as DPP members are outnumbered nine to four in the committee by their Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) counterparts.
Out of the 112 total legislators, the movement has secured the support of 15 DPP and four KMT lawmakers, as well as of two legislators from smaller parties.
Notably, some legislators who had previously been against same-sex marriage have agreed to support legislative deliberation for the amendment, including KMT lawmakers Ting Shou-Chung (丁守中) and Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟).
Legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Taiwan has already experienced several failed attempts.
Clashes occurred when opposing rallies for and against gay marriage took to the streets on the same day in November last year.
As of last year, public support for same-sex marriage has grown to 53 percent, while 37 percent of Taiwanese are opposed to it, according to a poll jointly conducted by TAPCPR and Academia Sinica.