Taiwan Equals Love ***
Director: Sophia Yen
Last year, Taiwan became the first Asian nation to legalise same sex marriage. Now, one year later, GagaOOlala – the new streaming service of LGBT+ content from Asia – has launched in the UK and has premiered this documentary looking back on the struggle for marriage equality.
Three years in the making, the documentary follows three couples from the time draft bills were submitted in 2016 until the law was changed three years later. Tien-Ming and Ho Hsian have been together 37 years and their health is failing them and they want to get married to provide security for each other should the worst happen. Elsewhere, Jovi and her girlfriend Mindy are bringing up a daughter, but because the child biologically belongs to Jovi, Mindy wants to be married to have parental rights over their child too. And A-Gu moved from Macau to be with his boyfriend Hsinchi, but in order to stay in Taiwan to be with him, they need to be married. Each couple has a lot at stake.
We observe each pair as they campaign to be together, but also battle with their own demons, balancing the pressures of daily life and the bigger cause they represent. As the day of the parliamentary debate arrives and we see how much this really means to each of them, it would take a truly cold-hearted person not to be moved by their struggle.
As documentaries go, this plods along fairly slowly but does well in making us invest in its six subjects. We invest in their stories as well as the bigger picture, which is of course what the movement was all about. The truth on the ground of LGBT+ being deprived their rights is what underpinned this struggle in every country around the world. The fact that it sticks firmly to observing its subjects rather than taking a step back to give a broader picture is, at times, frustrating for someone who isn’t aware of the political situation in Taiwan. I found myself trawling through Wikipedia for answers to questions the documentary posed, but it certainly opened my eyes to the struggles of LGBT+ people there.
OUT NOW ON DEMAND, AVAILABLE TO WATCH ON GAGAOOLALA.