In wake of U.S. ruling, Taiwanese rally for gay marriage

Sat Jul 11, 2015 11:54am EDT
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By Michael Gold

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Thousands of gay rights supporters marched through Taipei on Saturday, months ahead of elections that are likely to usher in a pro-gay party and could make Taiwan the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Protesters waved rainbow flags, lit candles and shouted "gay votes are still votes" as they marched between parliament and the headquarters of Taiwan's two main political parties.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage has given a renewed push to the movement in Taiwan, where a marriage bill has been held up in parliament ahead of January elections.

"Taiwan society has reached the point of acceptance of gay marriage," said protester Rafael Tsai. "It's a shame our politicians don't seem to be on the same level as the people."

Taiwan is one of Asia's most gay-friendly places, boasting a vibrant social scene and little overt discrimination. Polls show a majority in favor of gay marriage, and a recent study commissioned by the Ministry of Justice advocated legalization.

There is no formal recognition of same-sex couples, however, and many young people are still reluctant to come out to their parents.

"There's a huge generational split on the issue," said Mei-Nu Yu, main author of the stalled marriage bill.

"The opponents mostly come from the older generation, who also happen to be the most heavily represented among lawmakers."   Continued...

Participants hold rainbow umbrellas during a rally to demanding the Taiwanese government to legalize same-sex marriage in front of the ruling Nationalist Kuomintang Party headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, July 11, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang