On May 24, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legally recognize same-sex marriage, a victorious day for both country and continent.
As an Asian by ethnicity and an activist by conviction, the days leading up to the review by Taiwan’s Constitutional Court definitely cost me a few sleepless nights. And when the folks from the country’s marriage equality campaign invited a bunch of us Asian activists to send in a 60-second video to show our support for the Taiwanese, I wasn’t sure myself whether that could really help.
I come from Singapore, a country whose government disallows foreigners from being included, or to be allies, in the country’s fight for equality, and for many years I have been conditioned to accept that this was how it is going to be.
I thought, if supporting the freedom to love in a country like mine is only meant for its citizens, how can I now, from a foreign perspective, impose upon another country by meddling in the affairs of their LGBTI community?
I was glad that I did it, anyway. I was grateful that I could lend a voice, even if it meant that the ruling will not change, in any way, the status quo of the country I grew up in.
But I have always firmly believed that one country’s victory is not just hers alone, and that its victory will have wide-reaching effects on every other country that is in the same continent.
True enough, Taiwan created history this year, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the rest of Asia will be left out of this global equality pie. For me, I felt Taiwan’s landmark ruling showed us two things—that anti-LGBTI activists should now know that their long-held argument of LGBTI rights as a Western concept which will never have a place in Asia can no longer hold, and that other governments in Asia should now also be held accountable for the due right they owe their LGBTI citizens.
For those who thought Taiwan had it easy, her journey was everything but so. The country saw its first court case as early as…