Taiwan legalises same-sex marriage in first for Asia

On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on Friday (May 17), Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.

Legislators voted for a government-backed bill that would define a union between a same-sex couple as a marriage. Conservative opponents had proposed rival bills that would define partnerships as “same-sex unions” or “same-sex familial relationships.”

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party pushed through its law in a vote on Friday.

Prior to the vote, Tsai tweeted:”Good morning #Taiwan. Today, we have a chance to make history & show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society.

Today, we can show the world that #LoveWins.”

Friday’s vote comes two years after Taiwan’s top court ruled that defining marriage as being between only a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

Taiwan’s supreme court set a two-year deadline for the East Asian country to introduce legislation for same-sex marriage. Friday’s vote met the requirement a week before the supreme court’s May 24 deadline.

Taiwan split over same-sex marriage vote

Legislators voted between three separate bills on Friday, but ultimately pushed ahead with the DPP’s law defining same-sex unions as marriages. The bill was considered the most progressive of the three.

Bloomberg reports that Tsai’s DPP government “ordered its lawmakers to vote in favour of the bill drafted by Taiwan’s cabinet.”

Gay right supporters watch television outside Parliament while law makers discusses the same sex marriage bill in Taipei on May 17, 2019. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)

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. One bill proposed calling marriage a “same-sex familial relationship,” with partners being called “same-sex family members.” The other bill sought to call same-sex marriage a “same-sex union” with partners referred to as “domestic partners.”

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

The bill will also allow same-sex couples to adopt each other’s biological children, but not adopt non-biological children.

Over 70 percent of Taiwan opposed to same-sex marriage

In a referendum last November, 72 percent of Taiwan voted against same-sex marriage, showing the opposition towards LGBT+ rights that still persists in the region.

The referendum, which did not impact the supreme court decision to legalise same-sex marriage, favoured defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

However, Friday’s vote is a momentous victory for Taiwan’s LGBT+ community.

Around 40,000 people took to the streets of Taipei to show support for the legalisation of same-sex marriage on Friday.

A gay right supporter with a rainbow flag stands outside Parliament while law makers discusses the same sex marriage bill in Taipei on May 17, 2019. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)

According to Taiwan’s Apple Daily, more than 200 couples in Taipei have registered to marry on May 24, the day same-sex marriages begin being performed.