By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

The movement for human rights continues in an asynchronous and bumpy progression forward more than backward. In this progression, we can see regional and national differences. Some regions regress while others progress; same for nations. One of the more noteworthy cases is the increase in equal rights for the LGBTQ community. (Note: The UN has an  LGBTI Core Group , so the international human rights body’s language will be used here.) Asia has had some progression in the human rights sphere here.

Taiwanese society and culture became an important, and in fact unprecedented, example of the advancement of the rights of the LGBTQ community. Taiwan was the first country in Asia to  legalize same-sex marriage . In 2017, the constitutional court of the island ruled that the prohibition against same-sex couples marrying amounted to a violation of equal rights and personal freedom. The sexual orientation of individual Taiwanese citizens was ruled an innate or “immutable characteristic that is resistant to change.”

The President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, requested the Ministry of Justice develop a legal framework in light of the changes in 2017. Three bills were passed in 2019 with majority support by the leading Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan. The most progressive bill was approved by a 66 to 27 majority. Of the three bills, it was the only one using the term “marriage” in response to same-sex partnerships or relationships.

This bill was part of the political campaigning platform of 2016. President Ing-wen pulled through for the LGBTQ community in Taiwan, set an example for the Asian region, and promoted — without this terminology — humanist and humanistic values, and human rights for a traditionally ill-treated collective: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people. Ing-wen tweeted, “Good morning Taiwan. Today, we have a chance to make history & show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society. Today, we can show the world that #LoveWins.”

The bills went into effect on May 24, 2019.

This article appears in the February 2020 version of Critical Links.