Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to allow same-sex marriage after their parliament voted on a government bill that would allow a legal union.
The bill, which had the backing of by the majority Democratic Progressive Party, passed with 93 votes, 66 opposing and 27 abstaining..
The bill is set to take effect after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen signs it into law.
Same-sex marriage bill passes in Taiwan
The passage of the bill comes in the wake of the Taiwanese constitutional court ruling that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry in 2017.
The court had given the Taiwanese parliament two years to legalize same-sex unions.
Fortunately, the bill they passed was the most progressive of three different bills proposed.
The two other bills were submitted by conservative legislators, referring to same-sex partnerships as “same-sex family family relationships” or “same-sex unions” instead of “marriage.”
The new law allows two persons of the same gender, aged 18 or older, to register their marriage.
However, the bill limits LGBT family’s adoption rights as the child needs to be the biological offspring of one of the couple.
Taiwan LGBT celebrate passage of bill
Gay rights activists celebrated the decision, saying this was the only version they could accept.
Likewise, hundreds of gay and lesbian couples have already applied to register for legal union.
“For me the outcome today is not 100 percent perfect, but it’s still pretty good for the gay community as it provides legal definition,” said gay pastor Elias Tseng to the AFP news agency.
Jennifer Lu, chief coordinator of rights group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, told BBC that it’s “still not full marriage rights.”
“We still need to fight for co-adoption rights, and we are not sure about foreigner and Taiwanese marriage, and also gender equality education,” Lu added.
Benson Lee of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan told Gay Star News, “Legislators have come forward and stood on the side of love.”
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said that this “should sound a clarion call, kicking off a larger movement across Asia to ensure equality for LGBT people.”
The Taiwanese president herself said: “Today is a proud day for Taiwan. It is the day Taiwan let the world see the goodness and value of this land.”
One of Tsai’s political platforms when she ran for president 2016 was marriage equality.
LGBT fight for equality in Taiwan
When the court had legalized same-sex union in 2017, it was met with a public backlash. This made the Taiwanese government decide to hold a series of referendum.
Majority of Taiwanese voters rejected legalizing same-sex marriage, opting that instead of changing the Civil Code, a special law should be enacted for same-sex marriage.
Currently, Taiwan leads in LGBT rights in Asia with an annual gay pride parade in Taipei attended by LGBT groups.
While Vietnam has decriminalized gay marriage in 2015, it hasn’t granted full legal recognition for same-sex unions.
Meanwhile, same-sex marriage is still illegal in China though homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997 and officially removed from its list of mental illnesses in 2000.
Last September 2018, the Supreme Court of India had ruled that gay sex was not a criminal offence.
However, Brunei had issued stricter Islamic laws last April that made anal sex and adultery offences punishable by stoning to death.