The law passed by parliament on May 17, 2019 guarantees same-sex couples legal protections similar to those provided for unions between a man and a woman. Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to legalize homosexual “marriage.”
Just before the vote, the President of the Republic of China, Tsai Ing-wen, put aside her reserve to say: “Today, we can write history and show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society.”
The vote of May 17, 2019 is mainly symbolic, as the result left little room for doubt: already in 2017, the Constitutional Court had decided that same-sex couples should have the right to marry legally. It had given the government until May 24, 2019 to have Parliament adopt specific regulations.
A Catholic and Useless Vice President
In this country, which has 270,000 Catholics out of a total population of 23 million people, one would imagine that the Church would have a strong supporter in the person of Vice President Philip Chen Chien-jen. The latter, who has never hidden his membership in the Catholic religion, was, in 2015, even pushed into the political spotlight by the Archbishop of Taipei, Bishop John Hung Shan-chuan.
The latter, in remarks reported by Aid to the Church in Need in 2015, explained: “I have reminded [Chen Chien-jen] that the Second Vatican Council encourages the involvement of the laity in politics as a way of serving society and inculcating Christian values. I also told him that his candidacy would be an example for the 270,000 Catholics in Taiwan and could encourage more Catholics to engage in politics.”
This knighting turned out to be an embarrassment, because Chen Chien-jen was quickly disappointed. Far from defending the natural law and the position of the Church, the future Vice-President declared, during course of the campaign, that: “God loves everyone, this is why he also loves those who are homosexuals. Therefore, I also believe that homosexuals have the right to seek happiness and we must respect that right.” With such an “ally” in place, it was difficult for the Church to positively influence the political debate.
It should be noted that, at that time, the interim report of the first session of the Synod on the Family had already been published. Presented by Cardinal Péter Erdö on October 13, 2014, this document provided the promotors of homosexuality with a platform in the name of a false pastoral welcome, forgetful of true charity. If error and vice are encouraged by cardinals, it is not surprising that “committed laymen” will spread them in their turn. The fish rots from the head.