Twenty-seven major businesses in Taiwan spoke out for LGBTI equality on Thursday (15 November).
Next week, Taiwan will vote on LGBTI issues in national referendums.
Significantly, a Constitutional Court’s ruling that the Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex marriages, is at risk. In May 2017, it recommended changing ‘man and woman’ to ‘people’.
But, referendums will now ask whether citizens would prefer separate civil partnership legislation.
LGBTI advocates have denounced such legislation as failing to give genuine equality.
Repealing a portion of an act supporting LGBTI inclusion in Taiwan’s school curriculum is also on the ballot.
‘Diversity, inclusion, respect, equality and non-discrimination are values that we cherish and seek to uphold in our companies and in our business dealings’ Wednesday’s statement read.
Taiwan companies including Kunnex, Pegatron and Portico signed the statement. As did Taiwan-based global firms such as Google, Microsoft, and HP.
‘Employees in same-sex relationships deserve the same right to marry in Taiwan as other couples’, the statement read.
‘Taiwanese students deserve an education that prepares them to engage in a world where diversity and inclusion is prioritized’.
‘Pivotal moment’ for Taiwan
Washington DC-based Human Rights Campaign welcomed the statement. ‘This is a pivotal moment for equality in the region’, said Ty Cobb of HRC.
Jennifer Lu, head of the Taiwan Marriage Equality Commission, said equal marriage is ‘not just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business’.
‘We’re thankful these Taiwanese and multinational companies are speaking in one united voice in support of LGBTQ equality’.
‘We applaud these leading Taiwanese and multinational corporations for publicly standing with their LGBTQ employees and the entire community in Taiwan’ said Erin Uritus, CEO, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.
Equal marriage at stake
Taiwan’s bid to become the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex unions has been a rocky road. Politicians first introduced equal marriage legislation into the parliament a decade ago.
And, when President Tsai Ing-Wen and her Democratic Progressive Party campaigned in 2016 elections, they promised to equalize marriage.
In May 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as between ‘a man and a woman’ was unconstitutional.The country’s highest court gave lawmakers two years to legislate.
But Tsai and the DPP were slow to act. And, last month, anti-equal marriage campaigners petitioned the government for referendums.
Nearly 140,000 people attended Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade last month. The 16th annual event was the largest ever.
Now, it looks like Thailand could beat Taiwan to become the first country for same-sex marriage in Asia.
Thailand’s military government is holding public consultations on same-sex unions. It may pass legislation before the end of the year.