Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to legalise gay marriage

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On May 17, 2019 in a historic vote, the Parliament of Taiwan voted to legalise same-sex marriage, becoming the first country in Asia to do so.

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This landmark step follows a ruling by the Constitutional Court of Taiwan back in 2017, which ruled that legislation preventing partners of the same sex to marry was unconstitutional and violated gay people’s right to equality.

A civil society campaign in support of marriage equality, led by Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, has been gaining strength over the last two years both at local and international levels. Jennifer Lu, the coordinator of the campaign, has been part of OutRight’s Advocacy Week at the United Nations in December 2018 and a speaker at OutSummit, enabling her to address international policymakers directly.

The groundbreaking changes were passed by Parliament despite a referendum held at the end of 2018 which showed that a majority of Taiwanese people did not support gay marriage.

The provisions passed by Parliament today allow for same-sex marriage as well as some adoption rights, and will come into force on May 24.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, commented,”The Parliament of Taiwan made a historic decision today. They stepped up and unequivocally showed that human rights and equality are not subject to public opinion. The Parliament made a decision recognizing that love is love, regardless of gender, and that everyone who wishes to formalize their relationship and benefit from the corresponding protections of the state can do so, regardless of whether their partner is of the same or different gender. With this groundbreaking decision Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage. It is incredible that the decision was made on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia and Interphobia, sending the strongest possible message against hate and discrimination and for recognition of the human rights of LGBTIQ people.

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“But while the Parliament deserve immense credit for taking this brave step in spite of opposition, it could not have happened without the relentless courage and perseverance of LGBTIQ activists in Taiwan. Their success brings hope, and inspiration to LGBTIQ movements in Asia, and around the world.”

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