Metro Weekly

Taiwan becomes first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage

Taiwan's president said the island nation had taken a "big step towards true equality"

Photo: Amnesty International

Taiwan has made history by becoming the first Asian country to legalize marriage equality.

In 2017, the nation’s constitutional court ruled that gay couples had the right to marry, and set a two-year deadline for the Taiwanese parliament to legislate on the matter.

Lawmakers ultimately crafted three separate bills prior to the May 24 deadline, the BBC reports.

The most progressive of the three, put forward by the government, ultimately passed by a 66-27 margin.

In addition to same-sex marriage, the bill also granted limited adoption rights to same-sex couples.

Two other bills, crafted by conservative lawmakers, made references to “same-sex family relationships” and “same-sex unions,” but refused to call same-sex partnerships “marriages.”

The bill now heads to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen before it becomes law.

Tsai celebrated the passing of the law on Twitter, saying lawmakers had taken a “big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.”

Speaking to the BBC, Jennifer Lu, chief coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Tawian, said she was “very surprised — but also very happy.”

It’s a very important moment in my life,” Lu said. “However, it’s still not full marriage rights; we still need to fight for co-adoption rights, and we are not sure about foreigner and Taiwanese marriage, and also gender equality education.”

She added: “It’s a very important moment, but we are going to keep on fighting. We are Taiwanese and we want this important value for our country, for our future.”

Marriage equality was legalized despite a public referendum last year which rejected redefining civil marriage to include same-sex couples.

To accommodate the referendum and comply with the court’s ruling, lawmakers drafted a new law specific to same-sex marriage, which leaves the original civil marriage law as defining marriage between one man and one woman.

Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director for Human Rights Watch, called the passing of marriage equality a “tremendous victory” for LGBTQ rights.

“Taiwan’s action today should sound a clarion call, kicking off a larger movement across Asia to ensure equality for LGBT people and pro-active protection of their rights by governments throughout the region,” Robertson tweeted. “No more excuses!”

In a second tweet, he said it had cemented Taiwan’s “laudable record as an increasingly progressive, rights respecting government amid growing authoritarianism and rights abuses in other countries throughout the region.”

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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