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Photo Credit: The Wall Street Journal

Taiwan Is East Asia’s First To Legalise Gay Marriage

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May 29 2019, Published 3:44 p.m. ET

Taiwan has made history by becoming the first country in East Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. The island’s parliament voted last Friday to meet a two-year deadline imposed by the highest court. The bill passed was the most progressive one of three in debate, majorly backed by lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party.

Back in 2017, the highest court of Taiwan ruled that same-sex couples should have the right to legally marry. In a press release following the ruling, Taiwan‘s top judges stated that “disallowing two persons of the same sex to marry, for the sake of safeguarding basic ethical orders” made for a “different treatment” with “no rational basis”, violating the spirit and meaning of the right to equality and was therefore unconstitutionalThe parliament was given two years to amend old laws or pass new ones.

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Since then, three different bills were brought forward on legalising same-sex unions, a most heated subject of debate among legislators. Two of those bills were submitted by the Taiwanese conservatives, referring to partnerships as “same-sex family relationships” or “same-sex unions” rather than “marriages”. Many of the LGBTQ+ community feared this would still mean unequal treatment. The bill that passed in the end was the government’s bill, also known as the most progressive of the three, retaining the term “marriages” and was the only one to offer limited adoption rights.

Many activists had said ahead of the vote that the government’s bill was the only version that they would accept. Backed by lawmakers from the majority Democratic Progressive Party, the bill was passed by 66 to 27 votesWhen the result was announced, thousands of equality supporters outside the parliament building erupted in shouts of joy and tearful embraces. Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan chief coordinator Jennifer Lu told a source that though she was immensely and pleasantly surprised, they still need to fight for co-adoption rights and gender equality education. She added:

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“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.”

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“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.”

Elias Tseng, a gay pastor said that, “for me the outcome today is not 100% perfect, but it’s still pretty good for the gay community as it provides legal definition.”

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“Taiwan’s action today should sound a clarion call, kicking off a larger movement across Asia to ensure equality for LGBT people.” — Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch

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“Taiwan’s action today should sound a clarion call, kicking off a larger movement across Asia to ensure equality for LGBT people.” — Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch

The bill is set to take effect after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen passes it into law.

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