Taiwan, which hosts Asia's biggest Pride event this coming weekend, has long been known for its progressive attitudes toward the LGBT Community.
But now that the island has legalised same-sex marriage, it might come to be known for a conservative backlash against the gay community.
Since May, when Taiwan became the first in Asia to grant marriage equality, conservative groups have been targeting the Gender Equity Education Act of 2004, which originally called for upholding human dignity and gender equality but in recent years has also been used to implement anti-discrimination and LGBT sex education courses.
As a result, LGBT rights activists, who spent years campaigning for marriage equality and were still celebrating their court-mandated victory, have had to campaign for unity all over again.
In May 2017, Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that not allowing same-sex marriage violates constitutional articles pertaining to equality and freedom to marry. It gave the island's legislature two years to legalise same-sex marriage.
That is when the backlash began, with some conservatives arguing that traditional families might feel threatened and that gay partners' rights should be guaranteed by a special law, not by revising civil law.
In a referendum last November, conservatives' proposals won 72% of the vote. Then, six months later, President Tsai Ing-wen's administration followed through by enacting a special law legalising same-sex marriage, but falling short of altering the civil law's existing definition of marriage.
The name of the new law does not even include the word "marriage," out of consideration to conservatives and in recognition that voting for Taiwan's president, vice president and legislators takes place in January.
Indeed, there is reason for Taiwan's incumbent politicians to worry. Rather than be mollified by the compromises, the conservative forces are pushing to roll back the LGBT Community' gains.
Lai Shyh-bao, a lawmaker of the Kuomintang, Taiwan's main opposition party, has vowed to repeal the new law if the KMT takes back the presidency in January.
Also, the anti-LGBT Stability of Power party in September announced it will field 10 candidates in the legislative elections (the legislative Yuan has 113 seats). A party official said it wants to gain enough political leverage to have one of its members named minister of education. From that perch, it would peck away at education policies aimed at deepening students' understanding of LGBT citizens.
But few expect conservative groups' extreme views to prevail. Many Taiwanese, particularly young people, are fine with their LGBT friends' desire for equality.
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