TAIWAN: Pro-LGBT Politician Elected President

tsai-ing-wen-croppedv2Taiwan (officially known as the Republic of China) have elected their first female president, Tsai Ing-Wen. Tsai is also in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples. From The New York Times:

Taiwan has some of the most progressive policies on LGBT rights in Asia, and Tsai has vocally supported expanding them to include same sex marriage.

A campaign video that she released on Cixi, Chinese Valentine’s Day, last August, included three same sex couples. When the biggest gay pride parade in Asia took place in Taipei at the end of October, she reiterated these views in a video that she posted on her Facebook page and shared more than 3000 times.

“When it comes to love, everyone is equal,” Tsai says in the video. “I am Tsai Ing-wen, and I support marriage equality. Every person should be able to look for love freely, and freely seek their own happiness.”

Tsai’s party, the pro-LGBT Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), have also gained a majority in the Legislative Yuan (Parliament) for the first time, putting the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party, or KMT) completely out of power for the first time since the KMT retreated from mainland China to Taiwan in 1949. Ma Ying-jeou, the outgoing termed-out president and a KMT member, did not back marriage equality but did not antagonize LGBT people. Tsai will be sworn into office May 20. Here’s the ad from Tsai in October:

RELATED: Taiwan is the most progressive state in Asia regarding LGBT rights, followed by Thailand. Since 2007, Taiwanese law protects against employment and educational discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Since 2015, the cities of Kaohsiung, Taipei and Taichung have launched domestic partnership registries for same-sex couples, allowing for medical and hospital visitation privileges. A marriage equality bill was introduced in 2013, but a loud and vocal Christian minority reacted against the bill, causing it to stall in the conservative KMT-led Legislature. Taiwan Pride is the largest annual LGBT pride parade in Asia, having drawn over 78,000 people in October 2015.

Taiwan’s sovereignty is not recognized by the People’s Republic of China, with whom they have complicated, often tense, relations. The PRC, which has threatened the use of military force against Taiwan if formal independence is ever declared, does not have any protections for LGBT people in law as of yet.

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