On The International Day Against Homophobia, Taiwan became an equality trailblazer.
On Thursday, May 17th, 2019, Taiwan beat the rest of Asia on the race to a fulfill a progressive agenda by fully legalizing same-sex marriage. This step toward equality had been in the works for years and it is specially symbolic that Taiwan did it on May 17th, the International Day Against Homophobia. This law will go in effect on May 24, when many same-sex couples are expected to make use of it.
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's President, has been advocating for same-sex marriage for some years now, which means lawmakers were able to deliver on one of her 2016 campaign promises. Earlier today, she 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 Love Wins."
And once the results were in, she celebrated: "On May 17th, 2019 in Taiwan, #LoveWon. We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country."
Annie Huang, acting director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said she wished this milestone would create a domino effect in the region:
“We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region.”
Taiwan has been leading the fight in favor of same-sex marriages for some time now. So much so that the gay parade held in the island attracts many tourists from the region whose countries still have a much longer way to go in terms of equality. Yet, Taiwan's fight has also been long, and while this is a day for celebration, it may be too soon to call it. Only last year, conservative groups forced a referendum regarding this very issue.An overwhelming majority of 67.26% citizens rejected legalizing same-sex marriage, leading the opposition to denounce this bill as a gross misrepresentation of the popular vote. Backlash, naturally, is expected. So does this mean the new law will be contested by the conservative opposition?