There and Back Again: Progressivism and Backlash in Taiwan’s Fight for Marriage Equality

In May 2017, the Taiwan Constitutional Court declared prohibitions against same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but applied a delayed application clause that allowed the legislature years to amend the Civil Code before the decision would go into effect. The decision spurred backlash among conservative groups, resulting in a referendum. Despite this, the Taiwan Parliament conformed to the court ruling and passed a bill that legalized same-sex marriage in May 2019. The bill was problematic, however, for being restrictive on adoption rights and on marrying foreigners. This paper addresses the role of backlash in the creation of Taiwan’s marriage equality law, and assesses the efficacy of the delayed application clause by comparing how backlash politics operated in the march towards marriage equality in South Africa, which employed a similar judicial strategy of remedial delay, and the United States, which did not.