Report By Umme Sarah | Mount Carmel College Student Bengaluru | Last Updated at May 18 2019
On Friday, as lawmakers of Taiwan voted to legalize same-sex marriage, thousands of supporters jammed on the rainy streets of Taipei to wave rainbow flags, flash victory signs, and to cheer and chant “We want to marry!”
Lawmakers comfortably passed a bill, by 66 votes to 27, allowing same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and another clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies.
Late last year, Taiwan voters opposed same-sex marriage in a series of referendums, defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.
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 bitterly divided the Taiwanese society.
In a controversial referendum in November last year, 67% voted to reject same-sex marriage.
In recent months conservatives had mobilized to void any reference to same-sex marriage, instead, they put forward rival bills that professed something closer to limit same-sex unions
The law, however, allows same-sex marriages only between Taiwanese, or with foreigners whose countries recognize same-sex marriage.
It permits adoption of children biologically related to at least one of the same-sex pair.
However, the legislature passed the bill making same-sex marriage a reality.
It will go into effect on 24 May.
“For me the outcome today is not 100 percent perfect, but it’s still pretty good for the gay community as it provides a legal definition,” added Elias Tseng, a gay pastor who was among the crowds outside parliament.
The bill was successfully backed by LGBTQ groups, as they could see same-sex couples denied rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples, such as adoption and cross-national marriage.
“The passage of Clause Four ensures that two persons of the same-sex can register their marriage on May 24th and ensure that Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage and to successfully open a new page in history,” said by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights.
“On May 17th, 2019 in #Taiwan, #LoveWon,” President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted after the vote. “We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.”
“Today, we have a chance to make history and show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society,” President Tsai wrote on Twitter before the vote.
The Taiwan’s constitutional court imposed a deadline on the legislature. In 2017 the constitutional court struck down the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The court gave the government two years to revise the law, or same-sex couples would automatically be allowed to have their marriages registered by the local authorities.
“Love has won over hate, and equality has won over discrimination,” Annie Huang, acting director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said in a statement. “This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.”
Several gay couples said they planned to get married on 24 May, regardless of whether the legislature acts.
Xiaogang Wei, leading LGBT rights advocate in China who heads the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, called the bill’s passing a historic moment, not only for Asia but for the global LGBTQ rights movement.
“It will have a very positive impact on China’s LGBT community, offering us a lot of hope,” Xiaogang added.
More than two dozen countries around the world allow gay marriage, according to Pew Research.