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Taiwan Makes History by Legalizing Marriage Equality

People in Taiwan celebrate same-sex marriage ruling on Friday

Same-sex marriage will be the law of the land in Taiwan, after the country’s legislative body passed a bill to legalize it on Friday.

In 2015, LGBTQ+ rights activist Chi Chia-wei, and the Taipei city government both filed requests for Taiwan’s Constitutional Court to rule on its existing marriage law that restricted marriage to heterosexual couples. Two years later, the court decided that barring same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional, according to CNN. The judges told lawmakers that they had two years to change the laws to allow same-sex couples to marry.  

Friday’s 66 to 27 vote comes nearly exactly two years after the deadline was set, making it the first Asian country to pass marriage equality legislation.

Perhaps to no surprise, conservative groups have been campaigning against marriage equality in Taiwan, proposing pieces of legislation that would have instead created a second-class tier of relationship recognition for same-sex couples. Those bills were rejected. Additionally, while Taiwan does boast a notably large Pride celebration, two-thirds of Taiwanese voters rejected a ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage in 2018.

The new law, which will go into effect May 24 after President Tsai Ing-wen enacts it, does not grant full rights and protections to all couples. For example, it does not ensure that same-sex couples can adopt and limits marriages between Taiwanese citizens to only those from countries that also recognize same-sex marriage, according to CNN.

"The fight for equality does not stop here. We will continue to fight against discrimination, bullying and defend gender equality education," Jennifer Lu, chief coordinator of rights group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, told Reuters.

Tsai, who campaigned for president promising to enact marriage equality in 2016, said it was a “proud day for Taiwan,” according to Reuters. “We demonstrate the value of kindness and inclusiveness from this land to the world.”

RELATED | After Marriage Equality Defeat in Taiwan, LGBT Support Hotline Sees Spike

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