On Thursday, Taiwan’s legislature held a public hearing on the issue of same-sex marriage and the adoption rights of same-sex couples. DPP Lawmaker Yu Mei-nu invited a total of seven representatives from both sides to discuss and exchange their opinions. Among them, David Kuo from the Taiwan Gender Equality Education Association made some controversial comments that attracted harsh online comments and criticism from LGBT rights groups.
“As a married man who was once gay, I want to thank my father and country for never telling me that I could continue to be gay,” said Kuo during the public hearing.
Shin-Jie Lu from the Taiwan LGBT Hotline Association argued that sexuality should never be the excuse for the state to deny same-sex couples their right to marry. She said that denying same-sex couples from marrying is tantamount to treating them as second-class citizens.
However, traditional marriage defenders like Professor Tseng Pin-jieh from National Chung-Cheng University said that while same-sex couples should enjoy basic human rights, it doesn’t make same-sex marriage a basic human right. Tseng argued that there are proper reasons why only heterosexual marriages are considered legal.
“Heterosexual marriage has higher public value,” said Tseng.
A group of DPP female lawmakers are trying to amend existing laws to help LGBT couples acquire the right to get married. The proposed amendments would affect the familial relationship and inheritance segment of the civil code; according to the DPP legislators, the current law uses terms that indicate “male” and “female,” “husband” and “wife,” and “father” and “mother,” should be modified into gender neutral terms like couples, spouses, and parents.
Lawmaker Cheng Li-Chiun said that the proposed amendments is aimed at breaking anti-LGBT discrimination, because anti-LGBT sentiment is the source of social discrimination. According to her, the current legal structure encourages strengthen social discrimination structurally, therefore amending the law is simply giving the basic rights back to LGBT couples.
While Taiwan’s discussion on same-sex marriage just got underway, the U.S. government announced on Friday that it will recognize same-sex marriages from seven new states, including Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Utah. More states are expecting to join, as a federal appeals court in Cincinnati is expected to rule soon on the questions of same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
(Feature photo of a LGBT rights parade in Taiwan in 2006, by Atinncnu)