Taiwan: More than 1,000 gay couples wed in first month of equal marriage

Taiwans gay activist Chi Chia-Wei signs a wedding certificate for Shane Lin and Marc Yuan. )

Taiwan has wed 1,173 same-sex couples since becoming the first Asian country to introduce equal marriage on May 24.

In the first month of equal marriage, 790 female couples and 383 male couples tied the knot—though two have since divorced, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior announced on Sunday (June 23).

Same-sex marriage was introduced after Tapei legislators approved a government-backed bill on May 17, almost two years to the day after the island’s Constitutional Court ruled that a law defining marriage as being between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

The government was given a two-year deadline to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, and in November 2018 it held a referendum on the matter.

Of the 55 percent of voters who participated, 67 percent voted against marriage equality.

The result however did not impact the court ruling, which was binding.

First gay marriages take place in Taiwan

Some 526 nuptials took place on the very first day of marriage equality, May 24, which came after a three-decade fight by LGBT+ rights campaigners.

Marc Yuan and Shane Lin were the first gay couple to register their wedding. Their marriage certificate was signed by the LGBT+ rights campaigner whose legal challenge led to the Constitutional Court ruling, Chi Chia-wei.

Lin told Reuters as he queued outside of a Tapei marriage registration office : “I feel very lucky that I can say this out loud: I am gay and I am getting married.”

“I hope Taiwan’s democracy and human rights will have a ripple effect on other countries in Asia.”

—Chi Chia-wei

Chia-wei added: “This is the right that we deserved from a long time ago. I hope Taiwan’s democracy and human rights will have a ripple effect on other countries in Asia.”

Taiwain’s same-sex marriage carries limits

While marriage equality in Taiwan is undoubtedly a huge step forwards for LGBT+ rights, it is not without its limits.

Under the legislation, same-sex couples may only adopt children who are biologically related to at least one of the pair.

A lesbian couple wearing bridal gowns and eye masks

A lesbian couple pose for photographs during a mass wedding banquet in front of the Presidential Palace in Taipei on May 25, 2019. (Sam Yeh/Getty)

According to the Ministry of the Interior, none of the newlywed couples have filed for adoption as of yet.

Transnational couples are also limited by a stipulation that same-sex marriages are only allowed between Taiwanese people, or with foreigners whose country recognises gay unions.

Since May 24, 28 such unions have been registered.