Taiwan becomes first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriages

Same-sex marriage supporters gather outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Taiwan. The signs read ''Vote Can't Be Defeated.''

Taiwan's parliament has become the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage following a vote on Friday.

Lai Shyh-bao of the opposition Kuomintang party, who acted as one of the proponents of the "civil union" Bills, however, argued that "The cabinet's bill ignores the referendum results and that is unacceptable".

Advocates for LGBT rights hope Taiwan's legalization of same-sex marriage will spark a ripple effect across Asia, where some countries are already inching toward marriage equality.

The new law allows two people of the same gender to register a marriage as long as at least two witnesses sign the registration document.

A lawsuit before the constitutional court argued Taiwan's Civil Code, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, discriminated against gay couples.

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.

In recent months conservatives had mobilized to rid the law of any reference to marriage, instead putting forward rival bills that offered something closer to limited same-sex unions.

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

Worldwide, Taiwan joins 27 countries in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Thousands of people, including same-sex couples, demonstrated Friday morning in the rainy streets outside parliament before the vote.

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

Same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom became legal in 2014, Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage in 2015, in the USA it was also passed in 2015 and most recently Australia approved it in 2017.

Several DPP legislators who have taken a conservative stance on same-sex marriage were absent from the legislative session yesterday, including Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書), Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) and Hung Chun-yi (洪宗熠). Couples will be entitled to key marriage rights on matters including taxation, insurance, and child custody.

Taipei's colorful 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. Supporters shouted "First in Asia!" after the article was passed.

How does this compare to other countries in the region?

. "We need more dialogue in society".

"For Singaporeans, this is especially important because our government likes to go on and on about preserving "Asian" values... so this sends a very important message to other developed nations in Asia". It was one of three that lawmakers considered and the only one to use the word "marriage".

People may not marry their direct or collateral relatives within four degrees of consanguinity, unless they are collateral relatives through marriage who are not within three degrees of kinship, it says.

Elsewhere in Asia, laws are changing to reflect more tolerant attitudes towards LGBT groups.

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