In first for Asia, Taiwan lawmakers back same-sex marriage

In first for Asia, Taiwan lawmakers back same-sex marriage
Highlights

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage on Friday

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage on Friday, as thousands of demonstrators outside parliament cheered and waved rainbow flags, despite deep divisions over marriage equality.

Lawmakers of the majority Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) backed the bill, which passed 66 to 27, although the measure could complicate President Tsai Ing-wen's bid to win a second term in presidential elections next year.

Demonstrators braved heavy rain outside parliament in Taipei, the capital, with some embracing tearfully as others hailed the vote with chants of "Asia's first," and "Way to go, Taiwan!"

The bill, which offers same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals, takes effect on May 24 after Tsai signs it into law.

"Today is a proud day for Taiwan. We demonstrate the value of kindness and inclusiveness from this land to the world," Tsai told reporters after the measure passed.

The law, however, allows same-sex marriages only between Taiwanese, or with foreigners whose countries recognise same-sex marriage.

It permits adoption of children biologically related to at least one of the same-sex pair.

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.

Taipei's colourful gay pride parade, one of Asia's largest, puts on display every year the vibrancy of the island's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

"After 30 years of fighting, homosexuals can finally get married," said 32-year-old musician Ken Chen, who was outside parliament watching the vote broadcast live.

"Many of us were in tears." Rights group Amnesty International welcomed the end of a "long and arduous campaign".

Late last year, 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.

Yimou Lee

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