Taiwan Becomes First Asian Nation To Legalise Same-Sex Marriage

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same-sex marriage in TaiwanPA

Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.

The Taiwanese parliament rejected a last-ditch attempt from conservative lawmakers for a watered down ‘civil-union’ law, according to reports, and comfortably passed a law to allow same-sex couples to enter ‘exclusive permanent unions’. The parliament added a second clause, allowing couples to apply for a ‘marriage registration’ from government agencies.

Despite heavy rain, hundred of gay rights supporters gathered outside the parliament buildings in Taipei, as the debate surrounding the new legislature got underway.

gay rights activists in Taipei, TaiwanPA

The issue has been the cause of fierce debate on the island nation, dividing parties and members of parliament. Today, however, the country’s top court ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the constitution, as per The Guardian.

Judges gave the Taiwanese government until Friday next week, May 24, to make changes to the law, or same-sex marriage would be enacted automatically.

The government then tabled three bills for debate, the most progressive – and the only one to use the word ‘marriage’ – was passed and backed by gay rights groups. Though it wasn’t as progressive as they hoped, it did offer some adoption rights, and was the closest option to full equality with heterosexual couples.

The bill was passed by 66 to 27 votes.

Taking to Twitter, the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, said:

Good morning #Taiwan. Today, we have a chance to make history & show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society.

Today, we can show the world that #LoveWins.

She added:

On May 17th, 2019 in #Taiwan, #LoveWon. We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.

The president recognised how the issue has divided ‘families, generations and even inside religious groups’. However, she added the government’s bill was the only one to respect both the court judgment and the country’s referendum on same-sex marriage.

Before the bill passed, Jennifer Lu, a spokeswoman for Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, said:

The world is watching to see if Taiwan’s parliament will write a new page in gender equality or deal another blow to Taiwan’s hard-fought democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

For the gay communities what matters the most is whether we can legally get married on May 24 and be listed as the spouse in ID cards, to be treated and respected as the ’spouse’ in the whole legal system … and whether same-sex families can obtain legal parental rights for their children.

Taiwan will not be altering its existing definition of marriage in civil law, but instead will be enacting a special law for same-sex marriage.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.