For months it seemed like Taiwan would be the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. The country’s constitutional court heard arguments in favor of it, the country’s parliament will hold a hearing on the matter very soon, the country’s president Tsai In-Wen supports it and over 30,000 supporters have publicly rallied in support of it too.
But The Washington Post reports that same-sex marriage in Taiwan seems less certain as Christian and anti-marriage advocates have continued railing against same-sex marriage as a “Western” idea that is harmful to children and Taiwanese society.
“Though only 5% of Taiwanese identify as Christians,” The Washington Post says, “well-funded and well-organized church groups have commandeered the conversation,” particularly by playing homophobic fears and “family values” claims that same-sex marriage will lead to “incest, bestiality and AIDS.”
In a court hearing on marriage equality last month, Taiwan’s Justice Minister Chiu Tai-san called same-sex marriage a “newly invented phenomenon” unlike “social norms and mechanisms formed by the people of our nation over the past thousand years.” He also wondered how same-sex couples would designate their relationships on family worship sites traditionally etched with the names of heterosexual couples.
But Victoria Hsu, a human rights lawyer who also attended the hearing said, “ This is not something from the West, and it’s not about tradition — it’s about justice.”
A disbanded anti-gay marriage group calling itself the Baby’s Breath Layman Alliance has also recently re-emerged as the Baby’s Breath Anti-Drug Front, a group that still actively opposes same-sex marriage, though ostensibly because gay men participate in “widespread recreational drug use, which in turn promotes the spread of AIDS,” according to the group’s co-convenor Tsou Ting-hung.
Research has shown that while LGBTQ people abuse drugs at rates greater than the general population, they do so to deal with the stresses of societal homophobia and institutional discrimination.
All the same, Taiwan remains one of the most pro-LGBT countries in the region. Its military accepts openly lesbian and gay service members, their annual pride parade is one of the largest in the world and their government is considering a ban on so-called gay conversion therapy. The developments from the parliament’s hearing, set to occur in May 2017, will show how well same-sex marriage fares in the face of increased opposition.
(Featured image by FangXiaNuo via iStock)