Taiwan's government is drafting legislation to abolish the death penalty and legitimize gay marriages, a cabinet official told Agence France-Presse on Monday. If the laws are approved by parliament, Taiwan would be the first in Asia to legalize marriages among people of the same sex. Jointly drafted by the presidential office and the cabinet, the proposal is designed to protect basic human rights, the official said. "More than half of the draft has been completed so far, of which the gradual removal of death sentence was ratified," he said.
In addition to promising in October 2002 that Taiwan would gradually phase out capital punishment, President Chen Shui-bian announced that the government is also seeking to legitimize gay marriages and recognize the right of gay couples to adopt children. "The human rights of homosexuals have been gradually recognized by countries around the world," the United Daily News said, quoting the presidential office. "To protect their rights, people (of the same sex) should have the right to
wed and have a family based on their free will," it added. Under existing adoption rules, gays and lesbians are not considered as prospective parents.
The Taiwan Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Association hailed the legislation, which its officials described as an act of "goodwill" from the government. "It would be our pleasure to see the development. Basically, we are positive towards the goodwill from the government," said Chan Ming-chou, an official with the association. However, Chan told AFP that there was still a long way to go before discrimination against gay men and lesbians ends. The final draft of the bill is expected to be ready for parliamentary review in December, the cabinet official said.