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Taiwan: New President Should Deliver on Rights Promises

Lai Ching-te Should Address Refugee, Migrant Workers, LGBT Rights Issues

Taiwan's President Lai Ching-te delivers an acceptance speech during his inauguration ceremony, Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, May 20, 2024.  © AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying

(Taipei) – Taiwan’s new government should demonstrate its commitment to human rights by strengthening protections for marginalized communities, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to President Lai Ching-te. President Lai, who was inaugurated on May 20, 2024, should focus on safeguarding the rights of refugees, migrant workers, and LGBT people.

“As Taiwan’s new leader, President Lai Ching-te has an opportunity to tackle longstanding human rights concerns,” said Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Lai government should take concrete steps to protect the rights of refugees, migrant workers, and other marginalized groups.”

In recent years, Taiwan has made significant progress in advancing human rights, including legalizing same-sex marriage in 2019, a milestone for LGBT rights in Asia. However, human rights concerns remain, particularly in areas such as refugee and migrant workers’ rights.

In May 2022, Taiwan’s government initiated its first National Human Rights Action Plan, covering 154 actionable commitments, which is scheduled for revision at the end of 2024. 

Taiwan’s new government, in line with the Action Plan, should urgently pass a comprehensive refugee law, ensure all migrant workers are entitled to labor protections, abolish the death penalty, and allow for legal gender recognition based on an individual’s self-identification, Human Rights Watch said. In addition, Taiwan should allow same-sex couples with a partner from China to be able to marry under Taiwanese regulations.

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