New Poll: 53% of Taiwanese Citizens Back Gay Marriage

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday August 22, 2013

More than 50 percent of Taiwanese citizens say they approve of the legalization of gay marriage, which is more that double the amount of support recorded a decade ago, reports Taiwan News.

According to a new opinion poll, 53 percent of people surveyed back marriage equality while 37 percent said they are against it. In the wake of the poll's findings, officials from the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said straight and same-sex couples will be welcomed at a symbolic wedding banquet in front of the country's Presidential Office Building, held on Sept. 7, in Taipei, Taiwan's capital.

September is a lucky month for weddings in Taiwanese culture, because the number nine sounds just like the word for "longevity" in Chinese. In 2010, 163 couples were married in a mass wedding in Taipei. This is part of the reason the activist group is throwing the wedding banquet next month.

All types of couples, gay and straight, and their relatives are welcome to register for the event and pictures of participants will be projected on a large screen.

TAPCPR is holding the wedding event to let the government know that "politicians should no longer be reticent in allowing a minority opinion to set the agenda and pretend to serve as the mainstream in Taiwan society," Chien Chih-chieh, the group's secretary-general, said at a news conference, according to Taiwan News.

In just ten years, a quarter of Taiwan's population has changed its opinion on the issue, Chih-chieh added.

Chih-chieh said 76 percent of people surveyed felt gay people should enjoy equal rights and that 83 percent believe that each person should be free to choose whom they love.

Not surprisingly, younger, highly educated people who were either non-religious or non-Christian were more likely to support legalizing gay marriage.

Of the people surveyed in their 20s, 78 percent were supportive. Although only 6 percent of the Taiwanese population is Catholic or Protestant, 75 percent of those individuals were opposed.

The legalization of gay marriage in over ten countries played a big part in the publics' change in opinion on the issue, said officials from Academia Sinica's Institute of Sociology, which conducted the survey. They polled 627 people by phone between late June and early July with a 4 percent margin of error.

Despite the survey's findings, Taiwan has a very traditional culture.

"Weddings are a pretty serious matter in Taiwan," said Tony Coolidge, founder and president of the international consulting group, China Business Developers. "Many engagements never make it to an engagement ceremony, as traditional families have great influence on whether or not wedding plans are approved. Politics between families, or even family members can sabotage even the best intentions between [couples] in love."

The wedding ceremony will take place on Ketagalan Boulevard, a wide tree-lined street, where the Presidential Office Building is located.