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Taiwan becomes first Asian nation to legalise same-sex marriage

3 min read

Better Society
Source: Pixabay

Lawmakers in Taiwan approve bill legalising same-sex marriage in landmark decision, making the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to pass gay marriage legislation.

Same-sex marriage gets the go ahead after court rules Taiwan’s existing law unconstitutional

Taiwan’s landmark vote comes almost two years after the island’s Constitutional Court ruled that the existing law—which stated marriage was between a man and a woman—was unconstitutional. The panel of judges gave the island’s parliament two years to amend or enact new laws. On Friday—just a week off the two-year deadline—lawmakers in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality. It will come into effect on May 24.

On Friday Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage Lawmakers passed the bill by 66 votes to 27, meaning that as of next week same-sex couples will be afforded the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. The news sparked massive celebrations outside the Parliament in the capital Taipei. Source: YouTube/France24English

Friday’s decision has been a long time in the making

Despite the self-governed island of Taiwan having a large gay community, and its annual gay pride parade being the biggest in Asia, the issue of marriage equality has bitterly divided Taiwanese society. 

In a controversial referendum in November of last year, 67% voted to reject same-sex marriage.

In recent months conservative groups have campaigned against same-sex marriage reform, pushing for a law that would see gay marriages redefined as something closer to same-sex unions.

Tens of thousands of people turned out in the pouring rain on Friday to demonstrate in favour of same-sex marriage outside the parliament, as lawmakers began voting on three draft bills, one tabled by the island’s Cabinet—which would ultimately prove successful—and two watered-down rival bills tabled by conservative groups.

The successful Cabinet bill was the only one to use the word "marriage." It was backed by LGBTQ groups, despite the fact it could still see same-sex couples denied rights afforded to heterosexual couples, such as adoption and cross-national marriage.

Friday’s decision has been a long time in the making. In 2015, veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei—who has spent 30 years fighting for marriage equality— filed a request to the Constitutional Court asking for a ruling on an article in the island’s civil code stating that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The Taipei city government filed a similar request the same year after three same-sex couples lodged an administrative lawsuit against the government when their marriage registrations were rejected.

In 2017, the court ruled the law violated the constitution, and lawmakers were given a two-year deadline, but reached a deadlock. Taiwan’s gay marriage opponents seized the opportunity to put forward a referendum asking voters whether they agreed with same-sex marriage.

Source: CNN

A growing number of governments around the world are considering whether to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages. So far, more than two dozen countries have enacted national laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry, mostly in Europe and the Americas.
Countries where same-sex marriage and civil unions are recognised A growing number of governments around the world are considering whether to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages. So far, more than two dozen countries have enacted national laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry, mostly in Europe and the Americas. Source:

LGBTQ rights in Asia today

Taiwan’s vote sets it apart from other parts of Asia where LGBTQ rights have regressed.

In mainland China, where homosexuality is legal but prejudices and discrimination against LGBT people persist under Communist Party rule, an author of same-sex erotic fiction was jailed for 10 years in November.

In April, the ruler of the small, oil-rich kingdom of Brunei announced he would introduce death by stoning for those convicted of gay sex. However, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has since said the death penalty will not be imposed, although he did not repeal the law.

In Indonesia, declining secularism has led to deepening discrimination against the country’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities. Last year, two men accused of being gay received 87 lashes for gay sex in the country’s conservative Aceh province.

More than two dozen countries around the world allow gay marriage, according to Pew Research Center.

Source: CNN-Edition

How Taiwan became the most LGBT-friendly country in Asia As far as Asian countries go, Taiwan is not very big. It is home to about 23 million people, compared to 127 million in Japan, and 1.4 billion in China. Even so, every autumn Taiwan hosts the largest gay pride parade in Asia. This year, more than 130,000 people showed up to march. Source: YouTube/Quartz
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