‘We believe it’s time to change the law,’ says an emphatic Victoria Hsu, speaking from her Taipei office ahead of a wedding banquet rally to be held in the evening in front of the presidential palace on Ketagalan Boulevard.
Hsu is president of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) that is hosting the festive rally to urge the government to heed ‘people’s aspiration’ for families of diversity and legalize same-sex marriages.
Over 1,000 tables have been booked and hundreds have registered to attend the mass banquet, a modification of traditional feasts held to celebrate weddings, religious ceremonies and even elections.
‘Every person has the right to the pursuit of happiness,’ Hsu tells Gay Star News. ‘If same-sex couples are stripped of their rights and cannot legally marry because of their identity, then they effectively become second-class citizens and the law is endorsing social prejudice.
‘If a country wants to eliminate prejudice, then it must change laws that are rooted in prejudice and use law as a starting point for ensuring equality.’
Hsu says more and more people in Taiwan are beginning to realize that people’s sexual orientation and gender identity are diverse.
‘They also realize that our nation and legal system have the responsibility to treat all citizens equally and that any discrimination should be discarded immediately,’ she adds.
The public awareness has been brought about by years of lobbying that culminated in an opinion poll this year.
The Taiwan Same-Sex Marriage Survey was conducted in June-July by TAPCPR volunteers with family sociology professor Allen Jui-Chung Li, using random telephone samplings from respondents aged 20 and above.
The findings, made public last month, indicated more than half of the population – 53 percent –supported the legalization of same-sex marriage.
‘Our survey shows that in the past 10 years 29 percent has changed from “opposition” to “support” of same-sex marriage,’ says Hsu. ‘This proves that people’s opinions concerning same-sex marriage are transformable and that the opinions of the Taiwanese people on this have undergone great transformation.’
The advocacy group attributes the transformation partly to ongoing debates on legalizing same-sex marriages around the world paired with successful legalization in 16 countries, that began with the Netherlands in 2001.
But perhaps the most important reason is Taiwan’s respect for human rights that helped create public support for policies promoting freedom and equality.
A whopping 76 percent believed homosexuals should have equal rights while 83 percent said every person should have the right to choose whom they love.
Taiwan, one of Asia’s most gay-friendly places, hosted its first pride parade in 2003 and the Gender Equity Education Act was passed in 2004.
Earlier, equality activists were on shaky ground as less than 30 percent supported legal reforms. But with four other polls also indicating majority support for same-sex marriage, TAPCPR says it sees no reason for the government to postpone legal reforms.
The advocacy group has completed a written amendment to revise civil family law and will formally present the amendment to the legislature this month.