Marriage equality is a central issue for the LGBT rights movement in Taiwan. According to a 2012 survey, more than half of the Taiwanese population supported same-sex marriage, yet despite the statistic, two efforts at legislation and several court cases have in the past yielded little progress, although newly elected President Tsai Ing-wen has declared her support for marriage equality.
In support of LGBT rights, the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) hosted a screening of the Canadian documentary Jim Loves Jack: The James Egan Story.
The documentary features two young men in Canada’s 1950s, Jim Egan and Jack Nesbit. Egan was one of Canada’s first openly active LGBT rights advocates. In the documentary, Egan and Nesbit are at the center of a 1995 Supreme Court case on pension equality. Although the court rules against them, it recognizes sexual orientation as a prohibited basis for discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This recognition proved to be a key milestone on the road to marriage equality in Canada.
The film was followed by a question and answer session led by LGBT rights advocate Frank Wang, a National Chengchi University professor who earned his PhD from the University of Toronto in 1998. Guests at the screening included Yu Mei-Nu, a Democratic Progressive Party legislator and an initiator of Taiwan’s marriage equality bill, and Miao Poya, a young Social Democratic Party candidate and social movement activist. Both women have been prominent advocates of LGBT rights in Taiwan.
The audience seemed genuinely touched by the story of Egan and Nesbit, and was appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about the history of LGBT rights in Canada.
The screening was held in the lead-up to Taiwan’s LGBT Pride parade – the largest in Asia – in which CTOT Executive Director Mario Ste-Marie marched alongside the heads of the European Economic and Trade Office and the British Office in a show of support for LGBT rights.
As part of Canada’s foreign policy, Canada will continue to support gender and LGBT equality in all countries around the world.