2019 marks the year that Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same sex marriage. This step further influenced LGBT activists in other Asian countries to push for similar legislation. Generally, LGBT communities around the world are more likely to be accepted as the issue is brought up more often and influence public opinion. However, it’s still going to be a long way to go.
Some countries in Southeast Asia even criminalises homosexuality. Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore and Brunei are included. Brunei for example, had a death penalty law taken in effect per April 2019 to stone homosexuals and adulterers. The monarchy on the island of Boneo based its new code on Shariah law or the Islamic law, despite international outcry. Human rights advocates are worried that the law could embolden Islamic factions in other countries which have a majority of Muslim citizens, like Malaysia and Indonesia. As for Indonesia, the region of Aceh had been permitted from the a long time ago to run its region based on Shariah law. So, cases of whipping criminals for adultery and homosexuality are legal in the region.
Although there are countries who are considered ‘friendlier’ to the LGBT communities. In the Philippines, 73% adult Filipinos agreed that homosexuality should be accepted by society, according to a US-based Pew Research Center. Whilst in Vietnam, same-sex activity was decriminalised since 1945. Gay people can also serve the military and implicitly recognize same-sex marriage for there is no clause to prohibit or recognize such marriage under the law. The couple won’t receive legal recognition, but they also would not be punished or fined. Yet, it is still illegal to undergo transgender surgery in Vietnam.
Religion and social norms are taking an important part in the society’s arguments against LGBT and same sex marriage included. Opposers cite from the holy books to prove that same sex romantic relationship, let alone marriage, is forbidden. Although there are countless of skeptical opinions about the irrationality of religion and similar beliefs, religions has proven to withstand time and shaped our history and today’s society.
Strong arguments also come from traditionalists in social norms that same sex couples generally redefines marriage from its original form. Also, they argue that children are best raised by two opposite sex parents. As biologically they cannot produce children, same sex parents are seen to potentially give bizzare examples for their children (if adoption by married same sex couples is also legalized).
The LGBT communities see their sexuality as their right and thus demand complete freedom over it. Yet, much like feminism and women emancipation, LGBT still got a long (maybe longer) way to be completely accepted in the society, especially in the Eastern part of the globe, let alone be recognized legally or at least not be punished for their sexual preferences. Taiwan may have marked the step towards a more liberal society and legislation, but traditional views (be it cultural or religion) are still well preserved and will continue to bound its society.