The Race to LGBT Equality in Asia

Recent LGBTIQ victories in Taiwan and Nepal hint towards the possibility of same-sex marriage or legislation on civil union registration within the next few years. If all goes as planned, these progressive countries will be the first in Asia to codify policies allowing for same-sex marriage.

Nepal’s constitution recently issued protections for sexual minorities, however, has maintained a stance against same-sex marriage since a 2007 court ruling. Despite this, the Nepalese LGBTIQ community are optimistic towards progress. Nepal is one of only few Asian countries protecting LGBTIQ people under hate crime legislation. Many hope that within the next several years, the country’s tolerant views will gradually pave the way to legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry or access civil union registry. By identifying LGBTIQ individuals as a minority community protected under the law, there is widespread optimism that freedom to marry will ensue.

Recent events in Taiwan have also sparked discussion of the potential legalization of same-sex unions. Over eighty-thousand people attended the Taiwanese Pride Parade over the weekend in Taipei, considered Asia’s largest gay pride event. The parade spread hope for progress among the Taiwanese queer community, who had recently lost Jacques Picoux, Professor of French at the National Taiwan University. Picoux is believed to have committed suicide, triggered by a deep depression as a result of the death of his long-time partner, Tseng Ching-chao. Following the loss, Picoux was denied legal rights over their shared property and was denied the ability to make necessary medical decisions. Many Taiwanese people believe that same-sex legal recognition would have given Picoux better resources to help grieve the loss of his partner.

Uproar in Taiwan’s LGBTIQ community has increased public support of legal same-sex unions in recent polls. Yu Mei-nu, of the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan, drafted a legalizing same-sex unions and believes it can be enacted within the year.

The progressive stances of Nepal and Taiwan give us reason to be optimistic towards greater protections and positive legislation for LGBTIQ people in Asia.