In Asia’s first, Taiwan’s parliament legalizes same-sex marriage

18 May, 2019, 04:24 | Author: Wade Massey
  • A supporter stands outside the parliament building as the debate over the three draft bills of the same-sex marriage law continued

Taiwan's parliament has legalised same-sex marriage in a landmark vote that made the self-ruled island the first in Asia to adopt such legislation.

Taiwan's Legislature on Friday approved a measure to legalize gay marriage.

Two years ago Taiwan's top court ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the constitution with judges giving the government until May 24, 2019 to make the changes or see marriage equality enacted automatically.

Conservative and religious groups were buoyed by a series of referendum wins in November, in which voters comprehensively rejected defining marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman, illustrating the limited popular support.

President Tsai Ing-wen has said the government's bill respects both the court judgement and the referendum.

"It's a breakthrough, I have to say so", said Shiau Hong-chi, professor of gender studies and communications management at Shih-Hsin University in Taiwan.

"We are just a group of people who want to live well on this land and who love each other", she told the crowd.

After it passed, she posted another message: "On May 17th, 2019 in Taiwan, #LoveWon".

"We will have a clear answer this week about how this country will treat gay couples in the future", said Jennifer Lu, a spokeswoman for Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan. The bill takes effect after Tsai signs it into law. But the vote establishes full legal marriage rights in terms of insurance, taxes and child custody, The Associated Press reports.

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Although claimed by China as its own territory, Taiwan is a self-governing democracy with a vibrant civil society dedicated to promoting rights for sexual and ethnic minorities, women, the handicapped and others.

Taipei's colorful gay pride parade, one of Asia's largest, puts on display every year the vibrancy of the island's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Elsewhere in the wider Asia-Pacific region, Australia legalized same-sex marriage in December 2017, and has since held thousands of gay weddings.

Under the act, same-sex couples would be able to become legally married from Friday next week to meet a two-year deadline stipulated in Constitutional Interpretation No. 748, which was handed down by the Council of Grand Justices on May 24, 2017.

The public's disapproval could spell trouble for Tsai's bid for re-election in January.

There were tears of joy and people hugging when the result was announced. "Can we find an appropriate compromise solution? It's a success for us, for all gay people".

LGBT activists celebrated the historic news.

"What a tremendous victory for LGBT rights!" said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

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