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Taiwan set to become first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage

What a big step for Asia!

By Andrea Tim | Published: 11 Nov 2016

Same-sex marriage
Photo: mizzywizzie/Instagram

Taiwan is well on its way to becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, as one of three bills on marriage equality is already being listed for review by the nation's parliament.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is also the first female president in the nation's history, has always been vocal about her support of same-sex marriage. Yu Mei-nu, a ruling Democratic Progessive Party MP said that the passing of the bill, which she had a big part in drafting, is a "big step forward for the history of human rights."

"If Taiwan can get this passed, it will give other Asian countries a model," Yu said.

The Associated Press reported that 80 percent of Taiwanese aged 20 to 29 support same-sex marriage, according to local university studies. A survey from four years ago, taken by United Daily News, found that 55 percent of the public supported same-sex marriage; 37 percent opposed.

Currently, the countries that have legalised same-sex marriage are Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Wales, United States and Uruguay.

Taiwan's push for legal same-sex marriage saw a turning point following the tragic suicide of 67-year-old Jacques Picoux, who teaches French at the National Taiwan University. It is believed that he had suffered depression after his Taiwanese partner of 35 years, Tseng Ching-chao, died last year of cancer. The Guardian reports that Picoux was denied participation in crucial final medical decisions concerning Tseng, and also had no legal claim over their shared property. He fell from the tenth floor of his apartment in Taipei on 16 October.

"This story touched people," Yu said. "The LGBT group were very angry. It has put a lot of pressure on our party and on other parties."

On 29 October, tens of thousands of people marched the streets of Taipei in Asia's biggest gay pride parade ever, campaigning for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

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