Taiwan's parliament approves same-sex marriage

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

Taiwan is the first Asian country to legalize marriage between same-sex couples.

Legislators were already facing a deadline from a 2017 Constitutional Court order that required parliament to change laws to legalize same-sex marriage before May 24.

Heavy rain didn't deter 40,000 supporters from celebrating outside the legislature when the measure passed.

Article 1 of the Cabinet's version reads: "This act was formulated to enable two persons of the same sex to form a permanent bond that is intimate and exclusive for the goal of managing a life together, thereby ensuring that the right to marriage is equal and protected".

Late a year ago, Taiwan voters opposed same-sex marriage in a series of referendums, defining marriage as being between a man and a woman in civil law, though seeking a special law for same-sex unions.

"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".

Tsai tweeted on Friday (May 17): "On May 17th, 2019 in #Taiwan, #LoveWon".

There were shouts of joy and some tearful embraces as the result was announced.

Although the island has a large gay community and its annual gay pride parade is the biggest in Asia, the issue of marriage equality has divided Taiwanese society. "People will find the day is still bright and the Earth still moves after same-sex people start registering for marriage".

"What we have achieved is not easy", said Victoria Hsu, the founder and executive director of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights.

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.

The vote came after Taiwan's top court ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the constitution.

Tsai and the DPP's victory on equal marriage makes Taiwan the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.

Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people's will.

Lawmakers pressured by LGBT groups as well as by church organizations opposed to the move approved most of a government-sponsored bill that recognizes same-sex marriages and gives couples numerous tax, insurance and child custody benefits available to male-female married couples.

Taiwan has always been something of a beacon for LGBT rights in East Asia. At New Taipei Banqiao High School, students organised a week-long event in early May encouraging male classmates to wear skirts to support gender equality and challenge societal norms of what men and women should wear.

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