Taiwan’s president this week gave a moving tribute to a legendary LGBTI rights campaigner, Chi Chia-wei.
Tsai Ing-wen gave Chi the pen she used to sign the country’s same-sex marriage law on Wednesday (22 May).
‘I used this pen to sign the same-sex marriage bill. Please keep it as a token. May love unite everyone in this land’ she wrote in a letter to Chi shared on social media.
The first same-sex couples to get married in Asia will tie the knot in Taiwan on Friday (24 May).
Taiwan’s parliament voted in favor of Asia’s first same-sex marriage bill last week.
Chi made history in 1986 by holding a press conference and coming out as gay.
He has worked in HIV prevention and LGBTI rights for more than three decades.
His high court led to a 2017 Constitutional Court ruling that Taiwan’s Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex unions.
First in Asia
Taiwan’s parliament last week became the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
The government bill, which largely avoids the term ‘marriage’, has been labeled a compromise by LGBTI rights campaigners.
In a bitterly-fought referendum last year, most Taiwanese citizens opted for a separate marriage law rather than changing the civil code which would have brought genuine equality.
LGBTI rights campaigners accused conservative and Christian groups of running a well-funded campaign of hate and scare-mongering.
Taiwan’s parliament voted in favor of a government bill offering same-sex couples similar rights to opposite-sex couples after years of court rulings, referendums, and tussles in parliament.
The crucial 4th line of the bill passed with 93 lawmakers voting for the bill, 66 opposing, and 27 abstaining.
Thousands of LGBTI rights supporters gathered outside parliament and cheered as the vote was announced.
In a last-minute effort to appease conservative lawmakers, Taiwan’s ruling party removed the word ‘marriage’ from the bill.
But, same-sex couples can still get register for marriage in the same way as other couples.
Couples can only adopt children if the child is the biological child of one of the couple.
Taiwanese citizens can only marry people of the same-sex that come from a country (there are 26 of them) that has legalized same-sex marriage.
Taiwan is the regional leader for LGBTI rights. Thailand’s ruling junta last year submitted a union bill to cabinet, affording limited rights to same-sex couples.