Taiwan, a self-ruled island, becomes the first of any Asian state to pass gay marriage legislation after the lawmakers in the country approved a bill on May 17 that legalises same-sex marriage. The lawmakers passed the law allowing same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and a second clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies, reported Al Jazeera.
Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan took to Twitter to share the news after the vote.
According to CNN, the vote comes two years after the island’s constitutional court ruled in 2017 that Taiwanese laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violated their personal freedom and equal protection, and the panel of judges gave the government two years to amend or enact new laws. So on May 17, lawmakers in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality, which will go into effect on May 24.
“First in Asia!”
Taiwan’s parliament considered three different bills before voting. However, two other versions submitted by conservative lawmakers avoided the word ‘marriage’ and described same-sex partnerships as a ‘same-sex familial relationship’ or ‘same-sex union’. But the government’s bill, the most progressive of the three, supported by the majority Democratic Progressive Party, was the only one of the proposed bills to use the word ‘marriage’ to define the same-sex relationship.
As legislators were set to vote on a series of bills, thousands of gay rights supporters gathered outside the parliament in the capital, Taipei, despite heavy rain, carrying rainbow coloured placards, to watch a live broadcast of the proceedings. All the supporters happily shouted “First in Asia!” after the bill got passed.
As soon as the bill passed in the parliament of Taiwan, people took to Twitter to express their happiness over it.
After the lawmakers approved the bill, Victoria Hsu, the founder and executive director of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said, “What we have achieved is not easy. Although, the law will not be 100% perfect, but this is a good beginning and a major step to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now the law says that everyone should be treated equally, no matter who you are or who you love.”
Deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson said that Taiwan’s action should sound a clarion call, kicking off a larger movement across Asia to ensure equality for LGBT people and pro-active protection of their rights by governments throughout the region.
Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, had long been a hub for LGBT activism. Annie Huang, the acting director of Amnesty International Taiwan, says that it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan and now it is a moment to celebrate. She also hopes that this landmark legislation generates waves across Asia and offers a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBT people in the region.
The Guardian reported that the activists state that they will continue to fight for more rights such as recognition of transnational same-sex marriages, where one partner is from a country that does not recognize gay marriage.
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