Taiwan has moved to recognise transnational gay couples with spouses from countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, in a major victory for marriage equality.
Taiwan's Interior Ministry has informed local authorities that couples with non-Taiwanese partners from jurisdictions that do not allow same-sex marriage, including Hong Kong and Macao, can now wed in Taiwan.
The decision is among the last acts of Premier Su Tseng-chang, a political grandee from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party who tendered his resignation to President Tsai Ing-wen the same day. The president's spokesperson said a cabinet reshuffle is underway over the Lunar New Year.
The move comes more than three and a half years after Tsai's government legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, albeit with limitations on transnational partners. Since then, international couples have been fighting for their marriage rights, seeking redress in administrative courts in Taiwan.
However, partners from China, other than those from Hong Kong and Macao, will not be able wed under the existing amendment because citizens of mainland China are governed under a different set of regulations in Taiwan.
What's life like for LGBTQ people in Taiwan?
In terms of LGBTQ equality, Taiwan has been seen as one of the most progressive countries in Asia. Taiwan Pride attracts huge crowds, and a 2017 ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court set Taiwan firmly on the path towards marriage equality.
However, in a referendum held in November 2018, aspirations for marriage equality took a backward step, the most voters supporting a definition of marriage that restricts it to being a union between a man and a woman.
In its 2017 ruling, the Constitutional Court gave Taiwan’s parliament a maximum of two years to amend or enact laws so that same-sex marriage was legally recognised. According to the court ruling, if the Parliament failed to do so by 24 May 2019, same-sex marriage will automatically become legal.
The good news is that Taiwan’s parliament bit the bullet and enacted the legislation required to make marriage equality the law of the land.
Taiwan’s LGBTQ Pride celebrations are held on the last Saturday every October. It’s believed to be the largest gay pride event in East Asia.