Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to approve same-sex marriage

Cheryl Sanders
May 18, 2019

Taiwan's Parliament legalised same-sex marriage on Friday (May 17) in a landmark first for Asia as the government survived a last-minute attempt by conservatives to pass a watered-down version.

Cindy Su was one of the thousands of gay marriage supporters gathered outside parliament on Friday in the run-up to the debate.

"The cabinet's bill ignores the referendum results and that is unacceptable", said Lai Shyh-bao of the opposition Kuomintang party, who proposed one of the bills backed by conservatives.

Late past year, Taiwan voters opposed same-sex marriage in a series of referendums, defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, while seeking a special law for such unions.

A lawsuit before the constitutional court argued Taiwan's Civil Code, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, discriminated against gay couples.

Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen said the bill shows "kindness and conscience" were still a force in the country. "We took a big step toward true equality, and made Taiwan a better country". "This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage".

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.

"The world will see Taiwan as a progressive country because legal protection of love is equally given to everybody", she said on her Facebook page.

Same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom became legal in 2014, Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage in 2015, in the USA it was also passed in 2015 and most recently Australia approved it in 2017.

"I congratulate our gay friends for being able to win society's blessing, and I also want to say thanks to those who have different beliefs but still offered support for this law", Tsai wrote on social media, according to the report. The other bill sought to call same-sex marriage a "same-sex union" with partners referred to as "domestic partners". They had protested in the streets and lobbied lawmakers, who face re-election next year, to block same-sex marriage.

"I think once more people are married and more families are more comfortable being out in public, that will naturally have a beneficial impact on society and on people's minds", Lin said.

Vietnam decriminalised gay marriage celebrations in 2015, but stopped short of granting full legal recognition for same-sex unions.

Elsewhere in Asia, laws are changing to reflect more tolerant attitudes towards LGBT groups.

"A lot of gay parents are excited about that already", said Lin, a Taipei-based online streaming service founder.

Other reports by iNewsToday