In May last year, Taiwan made history as the first country in Asia to give the green light to same-sex marriage.
Essentially, the Council of Grand Justices ruled that it was unconstitutional not to allow same-sex couples to marry. In its ruling it gave legislators a two year deadline to make a law allowing same-sex marriage to happen.
It’s been almost a year, but the country isn’t any closer to same-sex couples heading down the aisle.
Making marriage equality happen has been a wild ride. All the more made clear in the rollercoaster of events just in the 10 months since the court’s ruling.
Since May last year, religious groups have tried to start a petition to overturn the court’s ruling, Taipei hosted Asia’s biggest Pride parade ever, lawmakers continually found excuses not to make marriage equality law and a Taiwan court refused to recognize the marriage of a gay couple wedded overseas.
Taiwan’s longest-running marriage equality activist Chi Chia Wei sums it up pretty well: ‘You’re almost home yet you need to wait outside the door for the next year and a half’.
Thankfully one filmmaker has been there to capture Taiwan’s unbelievable path to marriage equality in a unique ‘passion project’.
Germany’s Lucie Liu, decided to document Taiwan’s struggles to achieve marriage equality in her documentary, taipeilove*.
‘Making this project definitely changed my life and it makes me so proud when tell me, how happy they are that someone is finally listening to their stories,’ Liu told Gay Star News.
Liu saw an opportunity to tell the world about the ‘huge step’ for an Asian country to approve same-sex marriage. She hopes Taipeilove* will have a positive impact on other Asian countries.
‘Marriage equality clashes with deep-rooted tradition, culture and religion in Asian societies. I want to capture this important moment in history,’ she.
‘I hope that once it is released it will have an impact on other Asian countries. Change is possible and that’s the main message of my documentary.’
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan and the stage for Liu’s documentary.
Liu followed three protagonists who shared their stories of dealing with pressure of being LGBTI from their families and society in general. Sarah, Kevin and David have struggled with the traditional and homophobic beliefs in Taiwan while waiting for marriage equality to happen.
‘My protagonists give an interesting overview on the generational divide,’ Liu says.
David is in his forties and is from a generation of men who suffered through extreme homophobia.
Despite all this, David is a jovial guy who likes to ‘crack jokes’. But there’s one critical scene in taipeilove* shows how tough his path has been.
‘We filmed with him for a day and in one intimate interview he suddenly starts talking about his mother and how she reacted when he came out,’ Liu says.
‘The deep sadness and his tears show how deeply scared him and his generation are. This made me realize how far Taiwanese society has come.’
Changing the narrative
The constant changes to the marriage equality story in Taiwan have kept Liu on her toes as a filmmaker.
She keeps in contact with activists and local journalists to keep ‘in the loop’ on the latest news.
But regardless how much changed while the documentary was filmed, Liu was clear about its objective.
‘The situation is a bit unfortunate since the government is stalling the decision and is rather quiet about it,’ Liu says.
‘What is unfortunately very unique is the lacking media coverage. Australia, Austria, Germany and Taiwan made the decision to legalize same-sex marriage in 2017, yet Taiwan was not mentioned accordingly in many media platforms.
‘This would have been highly important. Since the world needs to see that the discussion is part of the discourse in Taiwan and that policy makers made the decision to make an active change.’
Taiwan’s come a long way, baby
Liu argues that her film needs to be seen by the world to understand how far Taiwan has come.
‘Even though members of the LGBT community in Taiwan still face problems… Taiwan has already taken a very important step,’ she says.
‘Taiwan is the very first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage… just 30 years ago it was ruled under martial law and is now on the verge of writing history and setting an example for other Asian countries.’
Get some Taipeilove* in your life
Liu says that we are living in a modern time with 26 countries already legalizing same-sex marriage and an ‘Asian one is going to be one of them in the near future’.
‘This development and my film should raise the awareness that members of the LGBTQ community are everywhere,’ she said.
Liu was able to make the film thanks to some financing from a German foundation. But the project has mainly been driven by ‘hard work and dedication of a passionate team of creatives’.
In order give a platform to ‘women’s filmmaking and the underrepresented Asian LGBTQI’ community, Liu has set up a crowdfunding campaign to get the film ‘across the finish line’.
— taipeilove* (@taipeilovedoc) March 27, 2018
The team’s looking to raise €15,000 (US$18,600) to help finance the documentary’s post-production. They’re also hoping to taipeilove* to film festivals around the world.
‘Everyone who is involved in this project is passionate about creating a documentary that tackles the topic of equality in an Asian country and its impact on the rest of Asia and hopefully the world,’ Liu says.
To donate to the crowdfunding for Taipeilove*, click here.