B. GENERAL ISSUES
Corporate Social Responsibility
16. The Review Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the Government pay all due attention to the issue of corporate social responsibility, including the need for binding legislation providing for monitoring and control. The Committee reminds the Government of its obligation under international human rights law to ensure that Taiwanese corporations, whether operating in Taiwan or abroad, as well as foreign corporations operating in Taiwan, respect all human rights. In particular, these business activities affect labour conditions, the position of female and migrant workers, trade union rights, housing rights, land rights and environmental rights.
Equality and Non-Discrimination
19. The Review Committee commends the Government for the efforts taken to ensure legislative compliance with the principles of equality and non-discrimination. However, the Committee expresses its concern that while anti-discrimination clauses are scattered in several acts, there is no comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation covering all grounds of discrimination in all contexts.
20. In the 2013 Concluding Observations and Recommendations, the Review Committee recommended the enactment of comprehensive legislation covering all fields of gender equality, with a view to implementing gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting. While reiterating this recommendation, it further recommends that the Government consider adopting a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. This law should cover all grounds of direct and indirect discrimination, and positive obligations that are binding on both the public and private sectors and placing an obligation on the Government to ensure de-jure and de-facto equality.
21. The Review Committee commends the Ministry of Education for implementing the previous recommendation for developing and implementing effective information and awareness-raising initiatives on equal rights of all persons regardless of gender identity, as well as for the implementation of the Gender Equality Education Act. The Committee urges the Government to continue its efforts to promote, protect and ensure respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons.
22. The Review Committee nevertheless remains concerned about the life situation of LGBTI persons. Like in many other countries, such persons frequently face exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, harassment and aggression by large parts of the general population and in schools, resulting in high suicide rates and physical and mental health problems. While noting that the Government has taken considerable steps to establish training programmes for doctors, nurses and other hospital staff, as well as teachers at all levels of education on the full respect of human rights for LGBTI persons, the Committee recommends that public large scale and sustained information campaigns in the mass media be carried out as a parallel activity, in order to enhance general awareness of the human rights situation of LGBTI persons in Taiwanese society.
23. The Review Committee reiterates the previous recommendation that the Government upgrade the Gender Equality Department so that it has the power, authority and budget to enable it to effectively carry out its mandate in data collection, gender impact assessment and the formulation and implementation of policies on gender equality.
24. The Review Committee acknowledges the numerous initiatives, such as reporting systems, domestic prevention offices, setting up of shelters and hotlines, to address violence against women in the country, especially domestic violence, which was also reported during the 2013 review. It expresses its appreciation that the Government has conducted research on the prevalence of violence between intimate partners, as recommended in the 2013 Concluding Observations and Recommendations.
25. The Review Committee further reiterates its earlier recommendation that the impact of the various initiatives be assessed, and on the basis of this assessment a comprehensive plan be developed to address domestic violence by adopting an interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral approach. It also recommends that the Government pay additional attention to the vulnerable groups of women, such as women with disabilities and the new immigrants who arrive as brides.
C. SPECIFIC ISSUES RELATING TO THE ICESCR
Right to Work and Rights in Work (Articles 6 and 7)
Household Foreign Workers
31. It is a cause of serious concern that since the initial review, very little has changed in the situation of foreign workers in the household category, including the caregivers and domestic workers who continue to be excluded from the Labour Standards Act. Furthermore, there has been no action taken on the long-promised “Domestic Workers Protection Act” despite the serious concerns expressed during the initial review in 2013.
32. The Review Committee renews its call on the Government of Taiwan to effectively remove, without further delay, the obstacles that hinder the passage of the Domestic Workers Protection Act. In addition, the Committee requests the Government in its next report, to provide a detailed account of the progress achieved on this issue, as well as an assessment of its impact on the rights of migrants.
Equality between Men and Women
35. The Review Committee is concerned that the job segregation by sex, both vertical and horizontal, results in gender pay gap. It is also concerned about the gender role stereotypes in the Taiwanese society, which puts child care and other family responsibilities primarily on women. The Committee recommends the Government of Taiwan to:
a) develop and implement a system to realize the principle of equal pay for equal work and work of equal value;
b) step up its efforts to mitigate the sex segregation on the job and take measures, including temporary special measures, to encourage women to pursue careers into non-traditional areas for women;
c) undertake effective measures to eliminate persisting gender role stereotypes in society, such as incentives for fathers to increase their participation in childcare and parental leave; regularly conduct time-use survey for both men and women; and awareness-raising programmes on the shared responsibilities of both men and women in the family and society.
45. The Review Committee urges the Government to ensure that women’s rights to housing and land are realised. This would include ensuring processes to protect their rights to security of tenure, including protection from forced evictions. This applies especially to women with particular housing needs such as single women, single mothers, widows, indigenous women and those with special needs including homeless and disabled women and victims of domestic violence.
Right to Health (Article 12)
48. The Review Committee remains concerned about the high incidents of sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents, and the alarming increase in the number of syphilis and gonorrhoea cases in relation to boys between the age of 15 and 19. The Committee also notes that unsafe sex practices are on the increase. While acknowledging that the Government is taking various steps to provide sex education for adolescents, the Committee recommends that school teaching on all aspects of sexual education be further enhanced, and that parents, teachers and medical professionals should also be actively involved in that process. The Committee recommends that the Government broadens its strategies, programmes and campaigns in this area, particularly by engaging civil society organizations and stepping up public debate via the mass media.
50. The sex education currently provided at different levels of school education is not comprehensive enough and raises disputes among different groups of people regarding the appropriateness of its contents. The Review Committee recommends the Government of Taiwan to:
a) provide for both boys and girls at different levels of education a curriculum on the right to sexual and reproductive health, which is comprehensive, scientifically accurate and up-to-date, engaging various stakeholders for consultation;
b) conduct research into the situation of intersex people, and formulate policy guidance including prohibition of medically unnecessary operations of removing otherwise healthy reproductive organs;c) take into account General Comment No. 22 (2016) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the right to sexual and reproductive health in implementation of Taiwan’s obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the right to sexual and reproductive health.
D. SPECIFIC ISSUES RELATING TO THE ICCPR
Right to Privacy (Article 17)
70. In the 2013 Concluding Observations and Recommendations, the Review Committee recommended that the Government should take steps to abolish the crime of adultery as this constitutes a violation of the right to privacy. During the current review, the Government justified its non-compliance by referring to opinion polls, which indicate that there is currently no consensus on the abolition of the crime of adultery. The Committee stresses, however, that it is the responsibility of the Government to bring its legal system in line with international human rights law and to take the lead, by means of awareness raising and other initiatives, to dispel concerns among the general public related to the protection of marriage and the family system. The Committee therefore reiterates its recommendation to decriminalize adultery and expresses its concern about its disproportionately negative impact on women.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
72. The Review Committee welcomes the various activities of the Government to combat homophobia and to raise awareness for gender diversity. With respect to transgender persons the Committee recommends, however, that the Government provide for explicit legal recognition of their freely chosen gender identity, without unnecessary restrictions.
Right to Marriage and Family Life (Article 23)
Age of Marriage
76. In the 2013 Concluding Observations and Recommendations, the Review Committee considered the age difference between men (18) and women (16) to be discriminatory and recommended relevant legislative changes. It welcomes the initiatives of the Executive Yuan and Judicial Yuan in this respect and urges the Legislative Yuan to speedily adopt a law that would raise the minimum age of marriage of women to 18.
77. The Review Committee notes with appreciation the initiatives taken by the Government of Taiwan aimed at introducing same-sex marriage into Taiwanese law. The full realisation of these legislative changes would be a manifestation of Taiwan as a pioneer in the Asia-Pacific region, in combating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.