Taiwan's annual gay pride parade is the biggest in Asia

A new proposal to legalise same-sex marriage in Taiwan is expected to be presented in a parliamentary committee this year, according to CNN.

Currently, there are no countries in Asia in which gay marriage is legal.

45 year old Chang, who runs famous gay bar, Dalida, in Taipei, is confident that gay marriage will be approved soon. Taipei, Taiwan (CNN)Just before Alvin Chang’s mother passed away 12 years ago, she asked Alvin’s older sister to look after him.

“I’m sure gay marriage will be legalised soon. I believe she (my mother) would feel happy for me, deep inside, if I one day got married, even if it is with a man.””

Chang’s bar is located in the heart of the city’s gay village. The walls of the bar proudly sport posters promoting the legalisation of gay marriage.

Taiwan’s large gay community reflects it as one of the most progressive places in Asia for LGBT rights. Gay sex is legal and discrimination against sexual orientation is strictly prohibited in workplaces and schools. Additionally, changing one’s legal gender is also also permitted. Furthermore, Taiwan’s annual gay pride parade is the biggest in the whole of Asia.

With the more liberal Democratic Progressive Party being elected at the beginning of this year, President Tsai Ing-wen, who incidentally is Taiwan’s first female President, has hinted that the island will become the first place to legally permit same-sex marriage. In a Facebook video during last year’s gay pride parade, the President said,

“In the face of love, everyone is equal. I support marriage equality. Every person should be able to look for love freely, and freely seek their own happiness.”

Despite this, there is a reluctance to come out to their parents or employers still exists amongst many LGBT people in Taiwan and is still a controversial topic with the older generations. Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice released an online survey last year that resulted in 71% polling in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.

However, when McDonald’s in Taiwan ran a commercial featuring a young man coming out to his father, a religious group heavily criticised the company for spreading “improper” ideas to children. Christian and social conservative groups also oppose gay marriage. According to CNN, a 2013 poll showed 75% of Christians opposed legalisation, whilst Buddhists, Taoists and the general public were generally supportive of it.

In 2012, a bill raised to legalise same-sex marriage failed in parliament, but Yu Mei-Nu, the same DPP legislator who proposed the 2012 bill, is willing to trying again. She is expected to present the bill later this year and whilst she doubts that the bill will pass soon, cross-party support in marriage equality has given hope that the bill will be passed by the end of Tsai’s term, which will end in 2012.

Rival party Kuomintang legislator, Jason Jsu, has said that LGBT rights are a top priority and is willing to collaborate with Yu and other legislators on the matter.