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Taiwan Set to Legalize Same-Sex Marriages

Taiwan could become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, with four pieces of legislation advancing gay rights in the pipeline and a president who supports marriage equality.

The Taiwanese legislature is considering four bills that would legalize same-sex marriage and allow for same-sex couples to adopt. The issue has the backing of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who announced her support in October.

“If we could realize marriage equality in Taiwan, people in our situation could lead fuller lives,” a closeted resident in Taipei told The New York Times.

The island nation previously attempted to pass marriage equality in 2013, but that bill was stalled while under committee review.

“We have a much better chance this time around,” said Hsiao Bi-khim, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party, a party that is supportive of same-sex marriage and holds a majority in the Taiwanese legislature.

Local university studies found 80 percent of Taiwanese citizens between the ages of 20 and 29 support marriage equality. The island nation has been culturally accepting of same-sex relationships since the 1990s, according to the Associated Press.

“The elite became in favor of a kind of gender equality,” said Associate Professor Jens Damm of the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Studies at Chang Jung University in Taiwan.

In the past 15 years, 20 countries have legalized same-sex marriages, the majority of them in Europe. Taiwan would become the first country in Asia to recognize marriage equality.

The bills to legalize same-sex marriage are not without opposition; members of the Faith and Hope League and several Christian groups have blasted the effort, with thousands of Taiwanese protesting same-sex marriage in Taipei on Nov. 17.

Yu Mei-nu, a DPP lawmaker, believes legalizing same-sex marriage in Taiwan could start a chain reaction throughout Asia.

“It’s a big step forward for the history of human rights,” Mei-nu said. “If Taiwan can get this passed … it will give other Asian countries a model."

Su Shan, a software engineer who is raising 5-month-old twins with her partner, said their neighbors already recognize their legitimacy as a family.

“We go to the market with our kids and people say ‘how cute,’” Su said. "When they find there are two mamas, they feel intrigued. Maybe they have seen news about this type of family but don't have friends near them who are doing it.”

Following the election of President-elect Donald Trump, many LGBT Americans have expressed anxiety over the fate of U.S. same-sex marriage if he appoints conservative justices to the Supreme Court.

While campaigning in Iowa during the GOP primary in January, Trump stated that he would appoint justices who could overturn the same-sex ruling issued in 2015.

“If I’m elected, I would be very strong in putting certain judges on the bench that maybe could change thing, but they have a long way to go,” Trump told Fox News on Jan. 31, according to Politico. “I disagree with the court in that it should have been a states’ rights issue.”

On Nov. 13, the President-elect said he viewed same-sex marriage as settled law during an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”

“It was settled in the Supreme Court,” Trump said. “I mean it’s done … And I’m fine with that.”

Sources: Associated Press via ABC News, CBS NewsThe New York Times, Politico / Photo Credit: Studio Incendo/Flickr

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