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Legislation on same-sex marriage still possible this year: Taiwan premier

Premier William Lai promises to push for legalization

Gay rights marchers in 2016.
Gay rights activists welcoming the Council of Grand Justices ruling last May.

Gay rights marchers in 2016. (AP photo)

Gay rights activists welcoming the Council of Grand Justices ruling last May. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The government is not giving up its effort to present a proposal before the end of the year to legalize same-sex marriage, Premier William Lai (賴清德) told lawmakers Friday after concern that the issue was not moving forward.

On October 16, activists will mark the anniversary of the death of French professor Jacques Picoux, whose suspected suicide amid a depression over the passing of his gay lover gave the same-sex marriage issue renewed impetus. In May, the Council of Grand Justices reached a decision against the restriction of marriage to persons of different gender, but since then little has happened.

Lai dismayed gay rights groups by saying earlier in the week that the passage of any proposal would be difficult as the current legislative session was devoting all of its attention to the central government budget.

On Friday, the premier apparently adjusted his position, saying he personally supported same-sex marriage, would not delay the issue and would promote it as much as he could.

Only a few details still needed to be discussed, but the Cabinet was still working to have a proposal ready for legislative review by the end of the year, Lai told opposition Kuomintang lawmaker Jason Hsu (許毓仁).

Germany recently became the 23rd country in the world and the 14th in Europe to allow same-sex marriage, Hsu pointed out, wondering when Taiwan would join the list.

For years, the island has been named as the country most likely to be the first in Asia to introduce gay marriage, and while it has been moving closer all this time, activists still feel that not enough is being done to reach their aim.