Taipei Hub

Pioneering Gay Activist Chi Chia-wei Seeks Constitutional Review Of Taiwan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban


If one were to compile a list of the great LGBT activists around the world, it would have to include Chi Chia-wei (above). 

Almost 30 years after he was arrested for petitioning the Taiwanese legislature to legalize same-sex marriage, Chi filed an application Wednesday seeking constitutional review of the country's marriage ban.

Chi's application comes two days after the legislature debated a proposal that would make Taiwan the first country in East Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Taipei Times reports: 

Backed by more than a dozen lawyers, as well as activists from the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), Chi said that the laws that bar same-sex couples from marrying are a violation of their constitutional rights.

With the legislature controlled by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), gay rights advocates say that the legislative path toward legalizing same-sex marriage remains difficult, while the judicial path might provide a viable alternative.

Chi spent five months in jail after petitioning the legislature to legalize same-sex marriage in 1986. He first applied for constitutional review of the same-sex marriage ban in 2000, but the application stalled and was never fully considered. 

Chi and his partner, who held a union ceremony in Taipei in 1988, again tried to register their same-sex marriage with a local government agency last year. But after an 18-month legal battle that included several appeals, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled against them in September. Now they are seeking a review from the Justices of the Constitutional Court, who have never addressed the issue. 

From The Taipei Times

“At the time [in 2000], I stood alone in battle, but I’m glad that more than 10 lawyers are willing to come forward and aid me in my application for a constitutional review today,” Chi said, holding back tears. “I am deeply grateful, and I would like to express my respect.”

In a spontaneous gesture to express his gratitude, Chi kneeled on the ground before the volunteer lawyers, before being swiftly pulled up.

Chi expressed his disappointment over remarks made by the Ministry of Justice and anti-gay marriage legislators during the legislative meeting on Monday.

“Medical evidence has already proved that gays and lesbians are not abnormal people, but we still have a group of homophobic officials and legislators that treat homosexuality like a disease,” Chi said. “[Their actions] have obstructed homosexuals in the pursuit of their own happiness.”

Polls show that more than half of people in Taiwan support same-sex marriage, including more than 80 percent of those ages 20 to 29. But the push to legalize same-sex marriage faces opposition from the likes of the Taiwan Religious Groups Alliance for the Family, which held a press conference outside the legislature on Monday, according to Focus Taiwan

"Human rights and marriage rights are not the same thing. People are born with human rights, but marriage rights are acquired," the group said in a statement.

The group said it does not deny the existence of homosexual people, but "marriage rights are given by the state and the society, and not something that people are born with. The state and the society have a complete say and the power to make decisions on marriage."

Watch a report from 2013 on the push for same-sex marriage in Taiwan, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "Pioneering Gay Activist Chi Chia-wei Seeks Constitutional Review Of Taiwan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban" »

Will Taiwan Become the First Country In East Asia To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage? - VIDEO


Taiwan’s government today discussed the possibility of legalizing same-sex marriage, the first legislation of its kind to be debated in East Asia, reports Focus Taiwan.

The bill, which aims to replace such terms as “man and woman” with gender neutral alternatives including “spouses”, was drafted by the Opposition Democratic Progressive Party’s Cheng Li-chiun.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fce19b83970b-250wiIntroducing the bill, Cheng said:

“No one deserves to be deprived of their rights at birth to be on an equal footing with others just because of their psychological or biological differences.

“If we cannot break the cycle of discrimination, then everyone could become a victim of discrimination because of their respective differences.”

The proposed amendment cleared a first reading last year but had been shelved before a committe could discuss it largely due to opposition from religious groups. Bills must pass three readings in order to be sent to the president to be promulgated.

In a statement opposing the amendment, the Taiwan Religious Groups Alliance for the Family accused pro-equality politicians and gay rights activists of "pretending to be civic groups" to "terrorize" other lawmakers with opposing views on same-sex marriage.

In October, the religious anti-gay lobbying group called for police to monitor the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade in the interests of "protecting children."

Last year, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei to protest against gay marriage while earlier this month, thousands took part in a rainbow run in Taipei in support of gay marriage

Watch a clip from Taiwan Pride 2014, AFTER THE JUMP...


Continue reading "Will Taiwan Become the First Country In East Asia To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage? - VIDEO" »

Taiwan's President 'Respects' Gay Marriage, Which Is Still Illegal


On Friday in a meeting with foreign correspondants in Taipei, Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou expressed his support for gay marriage in his country.

Ying-jeou noted that when he was mayor of Taipei 15 years ago it was one of the only cities in the world that had a budget for supporting gay rights activities and is now one of the most gay-friendly cities in Asia. However, heterosexual marriage in Taiwan developed over thousands of years of history and Ying-jeou lamented that advancing gay marriage, which is still illegal in the country, is going to take "a high degree of consensus".

Thousands Turn Out for LGBT Pride March in Taipei, Taiwan: VIDEO


Tens of thousands marched in an LGBT Pride celebration in Taipei, Taiwan on Saturday pushing for equal rights, Reuters reports:

2_taiwanTaiwan's legislature on Friday began a review of a gay marriage bill, which has the support of 53 percent of the public, according to a recent opinion poll, though acceptance of a gay family member remains low.

"Chinese families are still very traditional," said Jennifer Lu of the counselling group Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association and one of the hosts on the centre stage. "People still emphasise having an heir and passing on the family name."

On a cool autumn day, the 11th annual parade was marked by colourful costumes, plenty of exposed skin, musical performances and vendors lining the route to and from the city hall.

Spokeswoman Meico Tsai praised the liberal attitudes that have put Taiwan far ahead of its neighbours in terms of tolerance of gays. "Compared to other Asian countries, we're more open, but we still have a long way to go," she said.

Watch videos of the march, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Thousands Turn Out for LGBT Pride March in Taipei, Taiwan: VIDEO" »

Mass Gay 'Wedding Banquet' In Taiwan Pushes For Marriage Equality


Around 30 same-sex couples in Taipei, Taiwan symbolically tied the knot down the road from the presidential palace Saturday in a symbolic mass "wedding banquet" intended to push the government to recognize same-sex marriages. 

From Focus Taiwan:

A mass wedding that attracted over 1,000 people was held in downtown Taipei on Saturday, amid a push by local civic groups to legalize all forms of civil partnerships, including same-sex marriage, in Taiwan...

The alliance also hoped that the banquet would drive up support for an amendment that would legalize gay marriage, civil partnerships, and the adoption of children by diverse families in Taiwan.

The proposed legislation is set to be submitted to the Legislative Yuan later this month.

AFP adds:

Participants sat around tables decorated with red cloths printed with the Chinese character for “wedding”, as they had dinner and watched a video recording of local celebrities showing support as well as live performances in a makeshift banquet venue in a square outside the presidential office in Taipei.

“This looks likes a traditional wedding scene and even if it’s not real, I think a picture is worth a thousand words and I hope we will get more public attention and support for same-sex marriages,” said Richard Chen, a 22-year-old student from Taipei.

According to The China Post, a poll from the United Daily News shows that 55 percent of the population are in favour of same-sex marriage, with 37 percent opposed. Though that same poll also pointed out that 61 percent of respondents would not accept their children if they were gay. 

"Taiwan is considered one of the more liberal countries in Asia in terms of homosexual issues and hosts one of the largest gay pride parades in Asia each year," according to The China Post.


Towleroad - Blogged