Taiwan parliament approves gay marriage bill

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Lawmakers in Taiwan on Friday voted in favor of a law permitting "exclusive permanent unions" for same-sex couples and to allow them to apply for a "marriage registration" with government agencies.

Taiwan is the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

The country's top court ruled in 2017 that preventing same-sex couples from getting married was unconstitutional. It gave the government two years to introduce appropriate legislation or see a marriage equality law enacted automatically.

Divisive vote

  • Parliament had a deadline of May 24 to pass a law.
  • Conservatives tried to remove references to marriage, proposing instead same-sex unions under another name.
  • Friday's vote comes as the gay rights movement in Asia gains momentum
  • Friday is also the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

LGBT delight

The voting was accompanied by the presence of hundreds of gay rights supporters near the parliament, who hugged one another enthusiastically in the rain when the approval was announced.

The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said the vote meant Taiwan had successfully opened "a new page in history."

President Tsai Ing-wen hailed the vote in a tweet in which she called the decision a "big step towards true equality."

Conservative opposition

Conservative groups said the approval did not reflect the will of the people.

"The will of some 7 million people in the referendum has been trampled," one group, the Coalition for the Happiness of
Our Next Generation said in a statement. "The massive public will strike back in 2020."

Taiwanese voters last year rejected same-sex marriage in a series of referendums.

What does the law mean?

Friday's vote gives same-sex couples full marriage rights under law, including in matters such as taxation, insurance and child custody. Adoption rights for same-sex couples remain unclear, but they will not receive full parity with heterosexual couples under any version of the law, with at most biological adoptions under consideration.

tj/rt (dpa, AFP)

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