The Executive Yuan and the European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan (EETO) are hosting an EU-Taiwan LGBTI Human Rights Conference on October 24 and 25. Attended by the EETO Head of Office, envoys from 22 embassies and representative offices in Taiwan, and 260 participants from 31 EU and Asian countries, the event presents an opportunity for Taiwan and the EU to share experiences with marriage equality and other LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) issues with the aim of jointly promoting the expansion of LGBTI rights in Asia.
In May 2019 Taiwan became the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage and the 27th such country in the world. The Executive Yuan's Gender Equality Committee stated that Taiwan and the EU have long sought to advance gender equality and human rights, and have cooperated closely on exchanges in this area since 2015. At 2018's first annual Taiwan-EU Human Rights Consultations, the two parties reached a consensus on a three-year framework program on gender equality cooperation and training. With Taiwan as a platform, the program brings together the core nations of Japan, Korea and the New Southbound countries to work with the EU as a study partner in exchanging views and fleshing out gender equality policy.
The two-day joint conference focuses on three main topics: policy and experience in the EU and Asian nations related to marriage equality, the development and future challenges of LGBTI rights, and the creation of a friendly social environment for all sexual orientations free of discrimination. The event opened with keynote addresses by Vice President Chen Chien-jen and EETO Head of Office Filip Grzegorzewski.
Vice President Chen thanked attendees for their proud participation, and noted that only by uniting the public's strength was Taiwan able to achieve marriage equality and burnish its global prestige as the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The vice president also pledged to continue public and school-based education that recognizes and includes LGBTI citizens, so that the country grows even more tolerant and inclusive in the future. EETO Head of Office Grzegorzewski praised Taiwan for its openness, free and democratic system, and inclusive pluralistic society, as well as acknowledged the country as an EU partner with shared human rights values.