LGBT rights in Taiwan

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LGBT rights in Taiwan (Republic of China) Taiwan
Locator map of the ROC Taiwan.svg
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal
Gender identity/expression Transgender people allowed to change legal gender without surgery
Military service Yes
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
No, but some jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to register as partners
Adoption -

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights in Taiwan have been regarded as some of the most progressive in East Asia and Asia in general. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal, however, same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

The executive branch of the Government of the Republic of China (Executive Yuan) proposed the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2003; however, the bill received mass opposition at that time and was not voted on. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in education and employment has been banned statewide since 2003 and 2007, respectively.

The Taiwan Pride in 2015 was attended by nearly 80,000 citizens, making it the largest LGBT pride in Asia, which has led many to refer to Taiwan as one of the most liberal countries in Asia as well.[1]

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Adult, private, non-commercial and consensual same-sex sexual activity is legal in Taiwan. Same-sex sexual activity has never been stated as a crime in Taiwan, unlike many Western countries.

Constitutional rights[edit]

The Constitution of the Republic of China does not expressly mention sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Article 7 of the Constitution mention that All citizens of the Republic of China, irrespective of sex, religion, race, class, or party affiliation, shall be equal before the law.

The Article 22 of the Constitution mention that All other freedoms and rights of the people that are not detrimental to social order or public welfare shall be guaranteed under the Constitution.[2]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

At the end of October 2003, the Executive Yuan proposed legislation granting marriages and the right to adopt to same-sex couples under the Human Rights Basic Law; however it faced opposition among cabinet members (from Democratic Progressive Party) and legislators (controlled by Kuomintang-led Pan-blue coalition) and has been stalled since, and thus not voted on.[3][4] Currently Taiwan does not have any form of same-sex unions.[5]

In 2011, aiming to create awareness about same-sex marriage, about 80 lesbian couples held Taiwan's biggest same-sex wedding party, attracting about 1,000 friends, relatives and curious onlookers.[5] In 2012, Taiwan's first same-sex Buddhist wedding was held for Fish Huang and her partner You Ya-ting, with Buddhist master Shih Chao-hui presiding over the ritual.[5][6] In 2012, Chen Ching-hsueh and Kao Chih-Wei, the second Taiwanese same-sex couple to publicly get married, dropped the prolonged fight to have their marriage legally recognized.[7][8] Lifelong activist Qi Jia-wei picked up Chen and Kao's fight to have their marriage recognized, presenting his case in the Taipei High Administrative Court for the first time in October. He cited unnamed intelligence sources to accuse Washington, Beijing and the Vatican of standing in the way.[9]

On 22 December 2014, a proposed amendment to the Civil Code which would legalize same-sex marriage was due to go under review by the Judiciary Committee of Legislative Yuan. If the amendment passes the committee stage it will then be voted on at the plenary session of the Legislative Yuan in 2015. The amendment, which includes the marriage equality amendment, would insert neutral terms into the Civil Code replacing ones that imply heterosexual marriage, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage. It would also allow same-sex couples to adopt children. Yu Mei-nu of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has expressed support for the amendment as have more than 20 other DPP lawmakers as well as two from the Taiwan Solidarity Union and one each from the Kuomintang and the People First Party.[10] Taiwan would become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage if the Civil Code is amended. The bill failed in January 2016 as the Eighth Legislative Yuan ended.

In July 2016, some Taiwanese legislators announced that they would introduce a same-sex marriage bill in Parliament by the end of 2016.[11] Additionally, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced her support of same-sex marriage in November 2015.[12] In October, two same-sex marriage bills were introduced in the Legislative Yuan.[13]

The Constitutional Court heard a case brought by gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei (whose attempt at registering a marriage with his partner in 2013 was rejected) and the Taipei City government's Department of Civil Affairs. Both requested a constitutional interpretation on the issue and asked the court to focus on whether Taiwan's Civil Code should allow same-sex marriage and if not, whether that violates articles under the Constitution of the Republic of China pertaining to equality and the freedom to marry.[14]

The Constitutional Court ruled on 24 May 2017 that current laws, which say that marriage is between a man and a woman, are unconstitutional. The panel of judges has given the island's parliament, known as the Legislative Yuan, two years to amend or enact new laws, which could potentially make Taiwan the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage.[15]

Registration of same-sex couples[edit]

In May 2015, the special municipality of Kaohsiung announced a plan to allow same-sex couples to mark their partners in civil documents for reference purposes, although it would not be applicable to the healthcare sector; Taiwan LGBT Rights Advocacy, an NGO, criticized the plan as merely a measure to "make fun of" the community without having any substantive effect.[16]

On 17 June 2015, the special municipality of Taipei became the second jurisdiction in Taiwan to implement a relationship register scheme for couples.[17] Taichung followed suit in October 2015.[18] Tainan and New Taipei opened registration for same-sex couples on 1 February 2016.[19][20] On 1 March, the provincial city of Chiayi became the sixth jurisdiction in Taiwan to implement a relationship register.[21] On 14 March, Taoyuan became the last special municipality of Taiwan to recognize same-sex couples.[22] Both Changhua County and Hsinchu County implemented a relationship register on 1 April.[23][24] On 20 May, Yilan County began allowing same-sex couples to register as partners.[25] Chiayi County opened registration for same-sex couples on 20 October.[26]

Discrimination protections[edit]

LGBT flag map of Taiwan

In 2007, the Legislative Yuan, passed legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation at work.[27] Discrimination against sexual orientation in education has been banned since 2003 through the Gender Equity Education Act. In March 2010, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China announced that, starting from 2011, school textbooks would include topics on LGBT human rights and non-discrimination. According to the Ministry, the reform seeks to "root out discrimination", since "students should be able to grow up happily in an environment of tolerance and respect"[28]

Gender identity/expression[edit]

In 2002, transgender activist Tsai Ya-Ting unsuccessfully petitioned the Taiwanese President's office to allow her to use a photo that represented her actual appearance on her identification card.[29]

In 2008, the Ministry of the Interior stipulated in an executive order that transgender and intersex people must undergo sex reassignment surgery in order to change their legal gender on personal documents.[30]

In August 2013, the Taiwan Government gave the nod to the country's first public same-sex transgender marriage, after initially questioning the couple's gender.[31]

Since January 2015, transgender persons in Taiwan no longer have to undergo surgery to change their legal gender.[30]

Conversion therapy[edit]

On 13 May 2016, the Health Bureau of the Taichung City Government announced that medical institutions in Taichung are prohibited from engaging in conversion therapy. According to Shader Liu, a member of Taichung’s Gender Equality Committee, any group - medical, civil or religious - that practices the treatment is violating the Physicians Act and the Psychologists Act.[32] Taichung’s committee is currently making a request to the Ministry of Health and Welfare to make the new rule applicable nationwide, so as to eliminate the practice.

On 30 December 2016, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that it will draft an amendment to the Physicians Act to make conversion therapy prohibited. The Taiwanese Society of Psychiatry and human rights groups recommended that conversion therapy be banned. Members of the public will have the opportunity to offer their opinions on the draft amendment for 60 days, after which the Ministry will issue regulations based on the draft. The earliest the new regulations will take effect is March 2017.[33][34] According to the Physicians Act, doctors who engage in prohibited treatments are subject to fines of between NT$100,000 (US$3,095) to NT$500,000 (US$15,850) and may be suspended for one month to one year.[35]

Military service[edit]

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people have been able to serve openly in the military since 2002.[36]

LGBT life in Taiwan[edit]

Taiwan Pride 2005

In the 1970s, some novels regarding homosexuality were published. One of the most prominent writers is Pai Hsien-yung, who introduced gay characters in his novels, the most famous being Crystal Boys. More recently, some gay TV series and movies have been produced and have gained great attention among gay communities in both Taiwan and China. Examples include the TV series Crystal Boys, adapted from Pai Hsien-yung's novel by the same title, and the movie Formula 17.

On 1 November 2003, Taiwan Pride, the first gay pride parade in the Chinese-speaking world, was held in Taipei, with over 1,000 people attending.[37] It has taken place annually since then, but still, many participants wear masks to hide their identity because homosexuality remains a social taboo in Taiwan (ROC). However, the 2010 parade attracted 30,000 attendees and increasing media and political attention, highlighting the growing rate of acceptance in Taiwan (ROC). Since 2010, there has also been a pride parade in Kaohsiung, which attracted over 2,000 people.[38]

In the years 2004 to 2005, the Taiwanese director, Ang Lee, directed the gay Western film Brokeback Mountain, receiving high critical acclaim and Academy Awards.

"Spider Lilies," a lesbian film directed by Zero Chou, was screened at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival. It won the Teddy Award for best gay feature film.

Public opinion[edit]

A poll of 6,439 adults released in April 2006 by the National Union of Taiwan Women's Association/Constitutional Reform Alliance concluded that 75% believe homosexual relations are acceptable, while 25% thought they were unacceptable.[39]

A 2013 online poll showed that 53% of Taiwanese support same-sex marriage. According to the online poll 76% are in favor of equal rights for gays and lesbians.[40]

In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, a LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied they are with their lives. Taiwan was ranked 34th with a GHI score of 54.[41]

A 2015 online poll showed that 59% of respondents approve legislation allowing same-sex couples to establish ‘marriage-like’ relations, with 75% supporting same-sex marriage.[42]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Always legal)
Equal age of consent Yes (Always equal)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2003)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 2007)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2017)
Same-sex marriage(s) Yes (Since 2017)
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes (Since 2017)
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2017)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes (Since 2017)
LGB people allowed to serve in the military Yes (Since 2002)
Right to change legal gender (surgery not required since 2015) Yes (Since 2008)
Conversion therapy outlawed Yes (Pending nationwide)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes (Since 2009)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Asia's biggest Pride takes place as tens of thousands march in Taipei". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  2. ^ "Justices of the Constitutional Court,Judicial Yuan-Relevant Statutes". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  3. ^ Hogg, Chris (28 October 2003). "BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Look Who's Talking! (3 Dec) (28 October 2003). "taiwan moves to recognise gay marriages". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c France-Presse, Agence. "Taiwan couple in same-sex Buddhist wedding". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Lesbian couple in first Buddhist wedding". 11 August 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "Taiwanese court to hear same-sex household registration case". 23 March 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  8. ^ "Taiwanese gay couple drop legal fight". 24 January 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  9. ^ "Veteran activist takes Taiwan to court over gay marriage". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  10. ^ Lii Wen (2014-12-21). "Gay marriage proposal set for review". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2014-12-21. 
  11. ^ "Marriage Equality Could Be Coming To Taiwan As Early As Next Year". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  12. ^ "Watch: Taiwan presidential frontrunner officially endorses marriage equality". 2 November 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  13. ^ Abraham Gerber (25 October 2016). "Push for same-sex marriages started by DPP and NPP". Taipei Times. 
  14. ^ "Taiwan top court hears landmark gay marriage case". BBC News. 24 March 2017. 
  15. ^ CNN, Katie Hunt and Karina Tsui. "Taiwan step closer to being first in Asia for same-sex marriage". CNN. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  16. ^ "Gay rights group says Kaohsiung decision 'makes fun of' them". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  17. ^ "Taipei opens registration for gay couples". 18 June 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  18. ^ "Taiwanese city becomes first to record gay relationships as next-of-kin in hospitals". 13 October 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  19. ^ "Tainan to register gay couples". 28 January 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  20. ^ "New Taipei City to start registering gay couples next week". 29 January 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  21. ^ "Chiayi to register gay couples". 25 February 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  22. ^ 編輯, TNL (7 March 2016). "All Taiwan Municipalities To Recognize Same-Sex Relationships - The News Lens International Edition". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  23. ^ (Taiwan), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China. "Taiwan Today". Taiwan Today. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  24. ^ (Chinese) 酷新聞 伴侶註記再下一城
  25. ^ (Chinese) 520蔡英文上台後宜蘭第一個改變 開放同性伴侶註記
  26. ^ (Chinese) 彩虹旗登陸嘉義 嘉縣開放同性伴侶註記
  27. ^ "The China Post 5 May 2007". 5 May 2007. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  28. ^ School textbooks to introduce gay topics from 2011: Taiwan's Ministry of Education, Fridae, 8 March 2010
  29. ^ Ho, Josephine (2005). "The Woman under the Burial Quilt - Death of a Trans Warrior" (PDF). Left Curve. 29: 127. Retrieved 28 August 2016. 
  30. ^ a b "Taiwan to allow gender change without surgery in a month". 25 December 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  31. ^ "Taiwan: same-sex transgender marriage can stay". 7 August 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  32. ^ "Taipei Watcher: The call is loud and clear - Taipei Times". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  33. ^ MOHW: conversion therapy could be banned as early as March Taiwan News
  34. ^ Conversion therapy to be prohibited by regulation Focus Taiwan
  35. ^ Taiwan publishes bill to ban 'gay cure' therapy Gay Star News
  36. ^ "LGBT world legal wrap up survey" (PDF). Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  37. ^ "'We are homosecxuals! We love you!'". Teipei Times. 2 November 2003. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  38. ^ "Gay pride parade set for Kaohsiung - Latest - FOCUS TAIWAN - CNA ENGLISH NEWS". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  39. ^ (05/18/06) (15 April 2006). "Angus Reid Global Monitor, 18 May 2006". Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  40. ^ News, Taiwan. "Over half of Taiwanese support gay marriage: Survey - Taiwan News". Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  41. ^ The Gay Happiness Index. The very first worldwide country ranking, based on the input of 115,000 gay men Planet Romeo
  42. ^ Pols:71% of Taiwan supports marriage equality 30 November 2015. Gay Star News.

External links[edit]