It is no surprise that Taiwan is the first Asian country to go this route. A mid-sized democracy of 23 million people, the country’s culture is a blend of Chinese, Japanese, aboriginal and western elements, but in recent years its political elites take most of their cues from the West, and since democratization in the 1980s and ‘90s, generations of Taiwanese have returned with advanced degrees from western universities, deepening the western influence. Taiwan is also a staunch ally of the US, and the changes in American marriage law brought by Obergefell played no small role in convincing many here that Taiwan should follow suit.
Taiwan’s modern civil society is a far cry from what it was over 20 years ago. Today, Taiwan is no longer under martial law and has a multi-party system of democratic governance, which is mainly dominated by the governing Democratic Progressive Party and the KMT, which is now in opposition. While the KMT leans more toward the right, the DPP is far more progressive in its policies, which supports a distinct identity for Taiwanese society both as an independent entity from China and also in terms of civil liberties. The 2016 election was a decisive victory for the DPP, which picked up a majority in the Legislative Yuan for the first time and brought Taiwan its first female president, Tsai Ing-wen. Within this climate of progressiveness, it is little wonder that LGBTQ issues have become more elevated in their importance since Tsai’s election victory. Tsai has spoken in favor of same-sex marriage and the DPP has been largely supportive of gay rights. Most importantly, as stated before, the DPP holds the majority in the Legislative Yuan.