Taiwan have passed a same-sex marriage bill in May, making it the first place in Asia to bring in gay marriage. Chi Chia Wei, Taiwan’s acclaimed LGBT rights campaigner who led the country’s recently successful charge for marriage equality. He was a winner of the APCOM’s HERO Awards Community Hero category in 2017 gives his reaction.
– How did you react when you heard the parliament passed the legislation on gay marriage on IDAHOT?
I was really happy at that moment. I spent so many years fighting for marriage equality, and the Taiwanese society reached a milestone eventually. Despite massive pressure from the conservative powers, the Taiwanese government still allowed same-sex couples to get married.
– Can you explain your personal journey to this ruling being passed?
I became an LGBT activist in the 1980s. I filed the petition for same-sex marriage to the Legislative Yuan for the first time in 1986, and continued to negotiate with government departments during 1992 to 1994, and I applied for the first Constitutional Interpretation during 1998 to 2000. I applied for the second time around from 2013-15 and I plan to apply for the third time for the transnational marriage in 2019.
– How did you celebrate?
I was invited to become the witness of 20 same-sex newlyweds on May 24, which was also the first day same-sex marriage was implemented in Taiwan. I was really glad to see their happiness.
– The legislation does not cover all the rights, what else that is still needed to advocate for in terms of LGBTI rights in Taiwan?
The law doesn’t cover transnational marriage and co-adoption, which I will keep fighting for. Also, there are still many issues that need to be advocated for, like gender equity education, HIV stigma and discrimination, etc.
– For activists and advocates in other countries, what are your top recommendations that they can learn from the Taiwan experience?
Organizations have to be unified within and different organizations have to work together and do what they’re best with. We also need support from different professional areas, such as law, education and psychiatry.
I hope everyone could keep fighting for marriage equality with hope and enthusiasm. I stand with all of you. I also give my best wishes to the next countries to legalize same-sex marriage.