Taiwan: Hundreds of newly wed gay couples make history

Hundreds of gay couples in Taiwan are celebrating their new marriages on Friday (May 24) after the country became the first in Asia to legalise same-sex weddings.

Up to 280 couples are expected to get married on the day that a new law legalising same-sex marriage comes into effect, one week after parliament approved same-sex marriage legislation.

Government offices opened at 8.30am Taiwan time on Friday and gay couples were waiting to walk inside and, after a brief registration process, come out legally wed. Up to 150 couples were expected to wed in capital city Taipei alone, according to Jerome Taylor of AFP.

The ceremonies come after a three-decade fight for same-sex marriage by campaigners in Taiwan.

Taiwan legislators voted for a government-backed bill on May 17 that defined 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 the law.

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Shane Lin (C), partner Marc Yuan (R) are one of the first couples to marry. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty)

Three decades of campaigning

Taiwan gay activist Chi Chia-wei in Tapei. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty)

Chi Chia-wei (above) has been petitioning the Taiwanese government for almost 30 years to legalise same-sex marriage.

He was the first person to come out as openly gay in Taiwan in 1986 and has been behind several campaigns to legalise same-sex marriage.

On Friday, Chia-wei urged others in Asian countries to take their battles for same-sex marriage to court.

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, the vote on May 17 was 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 May 17.

Cynical Chick (L) and Li Ying-Chien display their wedding certificate in Taipei. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty)

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