Taiwan Becomes 1st Asian Nation to Pass Same-Sex Marriage Bill

(TELESUR) – On Friday, Taiwan passed marriage legislation allowing same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and a second clause that would allow for applications for “marriage registration” with government agencies.

Upon passing the bill, Taiwan became the first Asian nation to approve same-sex marriage law.  The legislation, which offers limited adoption rights, was passed with a 66 to 27 majority vote and supported by lawmakers from the majority Democratic Progressive Party.

Tens of thousands of people stood in rain outside the Taiwanese parliament Friday in anticipation of the same-sex marriage edictbeing passed. The country’s lawmakers voted on three draft bills, one tabled by the Cabinet – which was successful, and two opposing bills from conservative groups.

The latter bills refer to partnerships as “same-sex family relationships” or “same-sex unions” an not as “marriages.”

“For the gay communities what matters the most is whether we can legally get married on May 24 and be listed as the spouse in ID cards, to be treated and respected as the ‘spouse’ in the whole legal system … and whether same-sex families can obtain legal parental rights for their children,” Jennifer Lu, a spokeswoman for Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, said.

The law will take effect on May 24.

“The [government]’s bill is already our bottom line, we won’t accept any more compromise,” Lu told Reuters and added that “If one of the two other bills is passed, we will launch another constitutional court challenge.”

Ahead of the vote, President Tsai Ing-wen had stated that “today, we have a chance to make history and show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society,” in a Twitter post.

In 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court had ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, stating that the island nation had two years, or May 24, 2019, to amend the law.

But the government was forced to hold multiple referendums after public backlash.

The majority of voters opposed legalizing same-sex unions, saying that the definition of marriage was the union of a man and woman.

As a result, Taiwan retained the definition of marriage in civil law but enacted a special law for same-sex marriage.

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