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Joyce Teng: The Struggles Facing Couples of Same Sex Marriage in Taiwan Ep 193

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

There are still struggles for couples of same sex marriage in Taiwan.

It’s been three years since Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same sex marriage in 2019.

My guest on this episode of Talking Taiwan is Joyce Teng, the Deputy Executive Director of Taiwan Equality Campaign, previously known as the “Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan.” We talked what’s happened since 2019. Surveys and polls conducted over the past three years indicate growing support for LGBTQIA+ issues within Taiwan’s society.

However, there are still some additional struggles that same sex married couples experience as opposed to heterosexual married couples in Taiwan. Joyce also touched upon a few issues concerning transgender and nonbinary individuals.

She mentioned three areas in which same sex married couples face some challenges, the first being transnational couples; problems arise for couples of different nationalities when their marriage cannot be legally recognized in Taiwan; the second issue is co-adoption and dealing with Taiwan’s adoption procedures, and finally reproductive rights. It’s been eye-opening for me to learn about all of this.

These are all complex issues and many of them they could also pose challenges for heterosexual married couples in Taiwan. I only recently learned about a woman’s reproductive rights in Taiwan when it comes to freezing her eggs. We’ll include some articles on this topic in the Related Links section of this episode.


This episode of Talking Taiwan has been sponsored by NATWA, the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association.


NATWA was founded in 1988, and its mission is:


  1. to evoke a sense of self-esteem and enhance women’s dignity,
  2. to oppose gender discrimination and promote gender equality,
  3. to fully develop women’s potential and encourage their participation in public affairs,
  4. to contribute to the advancement of human rights and democratic development in Taiwan,
  5. to reach out and work with women’s organizations worldwide to promote peace for all.


To learn more about NATWA visit their website:



Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:


  • Taiwan Equality Campaign was previously the “Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan”
  • How the rights of heterosexual married couples differ from the rights of same sex married couples in Taiwan
  • How heterosexual married couples and single individuals can adopt in Taiwan, but same sex married couple cannot adopt in Taiwan
  • Earlier this year there was a court case that ruled that one of the spouses of a same sex couple, could adopt his spouse’s child who had been adopted when the was still single, however this is only one case, and according to the law in Taiwan a same sex spouse is unable to adopt the adopted child of their spouse
  • What is involved with the adoption process in Taiwan and how it could take up to 3-5 years
  • The gap when it comes to reproductive rights for heterosexual women and lesbian women who want to freeze their eggs in Taiwan
  • Reproductive rights of same sex couples in Taiwan
  • How Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world
  • The government in Taiwan offers subsidies for heterosexual couples to do IVF but not for same sex couples
  • How birth rates in Taiwan tend to be low during the year of the tiger (February 1, 2022 – January 21, 2023 is a tiger year)
  • How Taiwan has changed in the time that Joyce has been working for the Taiwan Equality Campaign and since same sex marriage was legalized in Taiwan
  • Surveys done by the Taiwan Equality Campaign over the past three years indicate increasing support by the general public for same sex couples to adopt, do IVF
  • Surveys done by the Taiwan Equality Campaign show that over time more of the general public have indicated that they have friends identifying as LGBTQIA+; this indicates that LGBTQIA+ individuals are more willing to come out to their family, friends and peers
  • Surveys have also indicated that since the legalization of same sex marriage in Taiwan, LGBTQIA+ individuals are more comfortable to talk about their personal lives and spouses
  • The different types of survey questions asked to gage people’s acceptance of same sex couples in Taiwan
  • Whether the general public in Taiwan supports teaching school-aged children about gender equality, sexual orientation and expression
  • How attitudes and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ individuals and issues may be indicative of generational differences
  • The film Small Talk, a documentary film about the filmmaker’s difficult relationship with her mother who was a lesbian
  • If having a nonbinary “Digital Minister” in Taiwan, Audrey Tang has had any impact on the general public’s views or acceptance of LGBTQIA+ individuals
  • How there is work to be done when it comes to awareness and understanding of transgender and nonbinary individuals in Taiwan
  • The challenges faced by transgender and nonbinary individuals in Taiwan
  • The question of how transgender and nonbinary individuals would like to be identified on their identification cards/documents
  • How the Taiwan Equality Campaign works with local government officials
  • How Taipei’s MRT bathroom signs will be gender neutral
  • How Thailand may be the next country in Asia to legalize same sex marriage
  • Advocacy to support LGBTQIA+ activists in other Asian countries
  • How Taiwan can serve as a case study of how the legalization of same sex marriage has impacted society
  • Difficulties faced by same sex transnational couples in Taiwan
  • How the Taiwan Equality Campaign has worked with local levels of government to train civil servants how to deal with LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals
  • How the Taiwan Equality Campaign approaches local governments about implementing LGBTQIA+ sensitivity training



Related Links:


Taiwan Equality Campaign website:


Same-sex couple becomes 1st in Taiwan to legally adopt child (an article from Taiwan News):


Taiwan is racing to fix its plummeting fertility rate, but experts say the problem may be embedded in cultural and economic life:


Will Taiwan Finally Figure Out How to Make Babies?:


How the Chinese Zodiac Affects National Birth Rates:


Audrey Tang (Taiwan’s Minister without Portfolio):


Thailand edges closer to legalising same-sex unions (an article from Reuters):


Small Talk at LGBTQ Film Festival: An Interview with Director Huang Hui-chen (Episode 92):


What Led to Taiwan’s Same Sex Marriage? (Episode 83):


Taiwan Pride Parade of the World: Speaking with Organizer Darien Chen (Episode 82):


Taiwan Hosts WorldPride 2025: Our Conversation with Darien Chen and Amazin LeThi (Episode 162):


Amazin LeThi: Her Journey From Homelessness to World LGBTQ Ambassador (Episode 164):

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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