Conversation: Why is there still opposition to Taiwan’s same-sex marriage law?
How are supporters of same-sex marriage responding to critics of Taiwan’s future marriage equality law? We asked a number of Taiwan’s thought leaders for their take.
Victoria Hsu (許秀雯)
Lawyer, Director of Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights
TG: Taiwan has become a leading voice in the field of gender equality in the Asia-Pacific region. How did Taiwan achieve this?
Hsu: “Every country has its unique social-cultural context and its difficulties to break through. ‘successful experience’ for one country is not necessarily applicable or duplicable in another country. For example, the legal system and social context that Taiwan faces are very different from the ones in Europe and North America. Taiwan has no sodomy law (while some Asian jurisdictions do), the legal age of consent for same-sex intercourse is the same as heterosexual intercourse. Taiwan also passed important legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation/gender identity in the workplace and schools in early 2000s. Despite these important milestones, marriage equality is still a difficult battle. It is not as easy as people think. We are still struggling with a homophobic culture and structural limitations in politics. Basically, I think the following factors are essential for promoting gay rights in Taiwan: political democratization, strong civil society, gay movements, and full freedom of speech and access to information.”
TG: What’s your take on the opposition to Taiwan’s marriage equality bill?
Hsu: Most of the opposition is based on prejudice or misunderstanding of LGBT communities. The biggest mistake, in my opinion, is to treat gay partners and heterosexual partners as "fundamentally different,” seeing gay people as "the other."
Shih Chao-hwei (釋昭慧)
Buddhist Master, professor of religious studies at Hsuan Chuang University
TG: What kind of attitude do Buddhist organizations in Taiwan have on the same-sex marriage bill?
Shih: Generally speaking, Buddhist organizations in Taiwan are not that concerned about gay rights issues. They don't hold strong opposition either. They think all desires are ignorant and we should surpass that. Therefore, heterosexual marriage is not sacred and homosexual marriage is not evil. We don't view them as binary.
TG: What do you think about the arguments against Taiwan’s marriage equality bill?
Shih: Democratic societies respect diverse perspectives but opponents often do whatever it takes to go against what they are against, such as creating rumors and framing others. I do not approve of this kind of behavior.
Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康)
TG: How do you respond to DPP supporters who oppose the same-sex marriage bill?
Tuan: “Someone once asked me, "what would your attitude be if your child is gay?” Actually, I have discussed this question with parents many times. I responded by saying: ‘Please listen to me. If our child is gay, I will love him very dearly because he has to withstand all kinds of judgement and mistreatment. His life is a hundred times, even a thousand times harder than ours. I will hold him and tell him that we only love him more and always support his choice. We hope that he can meet someone he loves, someone who also loves him back. We hope that he can be just like us, being able to enter marriage with the one he loves as long as he wishes to. We hope that they can, if eligible, also legally adopt and raise children if they wish. We will love him and love the person he loves.’
This is our answer. Today, let love triumph over bigotry, hatred, and prejudice.”