Multinationals see benefits in Taiwan same-sex marriage

Hugo Greenhalgh, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Posted at Apr 25 2019 06:18 AM

LONDON - Some of the world's largest companies said on Wednesday that plans to grant equal marriage to LGBT+ couples in Taiwan - the first Asian nation to do so - would boost the country's economy.

Taiwan's parliament is expected to vote by late May, a deadline set by the constitutional court when it ruled in 2017 that same-sex couples could legally wed.

Google, Airbnb, Deutsche Bank, EY, Mastercard and Microsoft have joined forces with nine other companies, including Taiwan-based O-Bank Co, to laud the benefits of same-sex weddings.

"We value diversity, inclusivity, respect, equality and non-discrimination, as well as seek to protect these values within our company and while working with our business partners," said Patrick Pan, enterprise public lead at Microsoft Taiwan.

"We do so not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it can make our company and society stronger and more successful."

Economists say the benefits of same-sex marriage include increased productivity, greater labor mobility, and less stress in the workplace over perceived discrimination.

According to 2016 research from Swiss bank Credit Suisse, the performance of a basket of 270 companies that supported LGBT+ policies was on average 3 percent higher than that of the MSCI All Country World Index, which measures global stock movements.

AN ASIAN FIRST

Taiwan is set to become the first country in Asia to allow same-sex marriage following a 2017 ruling by the country's Constitutional Court that to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry violated the constitution.

However, Taiwanese voters rejected same-sex marriage in an advisory referendum last November, prompting concerns about whether the ruling would become law.

Under the terms of the court's judgement, lawmakers have until May 24 to pass legislation that will allow same-sex couples to wed. If the Taiwanese parliament fails to act, same-sex marriage will automatically become legal.

"Leveraging different perspectives fuels innovation, fosters collaboration and strengthens relationships," said EY's Taiwan country managing partner Andrew Fuh.

"This is why we believe that each of us has a role to play in advancing diversity and inclusion."

Taiwan's parliament is currently considering two bills offering couples differing rights ahead of the May 24 deadline.

Jennifer Lu, chief co-ordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, said passing marriage equality would send a message to the world that "Taiwan is open for business."