Taiwan is First in Asia to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Gay rights supporters wait in the rain outside the parliament building in Taipei before the landmark decision was announced on Friday

There were tears of joy among Taiwan's LGBT community on Friday after same-sex marriage was legalised in a historic first for Asia.

Taiwan will decide whether to pass Asia's first gay marriage law on Friday as conservative lawmakers launch a last-ditch attempt to scupper the bill despite a court ruling ordering same-sex marital equality.

But most legislators who spoke Friday advocated some measure of protection for same-sex couples.

The vote followed a years-long tussle over marriage equality that culminated in a 2017 declaration by the democratic island's constitutional court giving same-sex couples the right to marry, and setting a deadline of May 24 for legislation.

She wrote: "Good morning #Taiwan".

"Today, we can show the world that #LoveWins", added Tsai, who campaigned on a promise of marriage equality in the 2016 presidential election.

"Following the vote, Tsai tweeted "#LoveWon" and that Taiwan "took a big step towards true equality" that made it a better place.

Activists said they would continue to push for more rights, such as recognition of transnational same-sex marriages, where one partner is from a country that does not recognise gay marriage.

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Although claimed by China as its own territory, Taiwan is a self-governing democracy with a vibrant civil society dedicated to promoting rights for sexual and ethnic minorities, women, the handicapped and others.

Taiwan has been a leader for gay rights in Asia, hosting an annual gay pride parade in Taipei attended by LGBT groups from all over the continent.

Taiwan goes to the polls in January and the gay marriage issue could hamper Tsai's chances of re-election.

Conservative and religious groups have been buoyed by a series of referendum wins in November, in which voters comprehensively rejected defining marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman.

Lai Shyh-bao of the opposition Kuomintang party, who acted as one of the proponents of the "civil union" Bills, however, argued that "The cabinet's bill ignores the referendum results and that is unacceptable". "Can we find an appropriate compromise solution?"

"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".

"What a tremendous victory for LGBT rights!" said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"In Taiwan a marriage will take effect when it's registered, so allowing marriage registration is no doubt recognising the marriage itself", Victoria Hsu, a gay rights lawyer, told AFP.

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