Celebrations as Taiwan legalises same-sex marriage

Lester Mason
May 18, 2019

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage on Friday, as thousands of demonstrators outside parliament cheered and waved rainbow flags, despite deep divisions over marriage equality.

"Today, we have a chance to make history and show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society", she added in a tweet ahead of the vote.

Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in 2011.

Opinion surveys in 2012 and 2015 found that slight majorities of Taiwanese support same-sex marriage, but local media outlet The News Lens and PollcracyLab found in a March 2018 survey that people held "malleable" views based on how the term "legalization" was framed.

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

Taipei's annual gay pride event is the largest in the region.

The vote comes two years after the island's constitutional court ruled in favour of same-sex marriage.

It was not immediately clear, however, if same-sex couples are entitled to key rights, such as adoption and cross-national marriage, with parliament continuing to discuss the measure on Friday.

Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people's will.


Taiwan's LGBT community has been left in limbo the last two years, with many couples planning weddings before the May 24 deadline but unsure of what marriage equality would look like.

Activists said they would continue to push for more rights, such as recognition of transnational same-sex marriages, where one partner is from a country that does not recognise gay marriage.

President Tsai Ing-wen hailed the vote as a "big step towards true equality" that "made Taiwan a better country".

The other two bills limited the definition of marriage to that between a man and a woman and sought to create a new type of union for same-sex couples.

Tsai had previously spoken in favor of gay marriage but was later accused of dragging her feet after the court judgement, fearful of a voter backlash.

"We need to take responsibility for the referendum a year ago and we need to take responsibility for people who have suffered from incomplete laws or faced discrimination", ruling party legislator Hsiao Bi-khim said during the three-hour parliament session.

"The first in Asia! We need more dialogue in society".

"In Taiwan a marriage will take effect when it's registered, so allowing marriage registration is no doubt recognising the marriage itself", Victoria Hsu, a gay rights lawyer, told AFP.

The DPP's bill will recognise unions as marriages, the same as heterosexual couples, and define partners as spouses.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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