Taiwan legalises same-sex marriage in a historic first for Asia

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

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

Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate after Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage, Taiwan May 17, 2019.

"The cabinet's bill ignores the referendum results and that is unacceptable", said Lai Shyh-bao of the opposition Kuomintang party, who proposed one of the bills backed by conservatives.

Australia passed laws allowing same-sex marriage in 2017, but such unions are not recognised by Hong Kong and neighboring China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be returned to the fold by force, if necessary.

The vote by Taiwan's parliament came two years after the self-ruled island's constitutional court ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry was a violation of the constitution, and told the parliament to take action to enforce its judgement.

Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen said the bill showed that "kindness and conscience" were still held as strong values on the island.

"Following the vote, Tsai tweeted "#LoveWon" and that Taiwan "took a big step towards true equality" that made it a better place.

But, same-sex couples can still get register for marriage in the same way as other couples.

Gay rights groups hailed the vote on Friday, saying the ability to apply for a "marriage registration" - known as Clause Four - put their community much closer to parity with heterosexual couples.

Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in 2011.

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.

The conservative Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation accused the president on Friday of promoting the same-sex marriage legislation in an effort to pander to young voters and said it could initiate a referendum aimed at overturning the new law.

She wrote: "Good morning #Taiwan". The other bill sought to call same-sex marriage a "same-sex union" with partners referred to as "domestic partners".

Taiwan has always been something of a beacon for LGBT rights in East Asia. "We need more dialogue in society". They had protested in the streets and lobbied lawmakers, who face re-election next year, to block same-sex marriage.

Vietnam decriminalised gay marriage celebrations in 2015, but it stopped short of full legal recognition for same-sex unions.

"This is going to cause a lot of morality problems", said Lin Shih-min with the Taiwan political action group Stability of Power, which opposed the law.

In a historic decision, India's Supreme Court ruled that gay sex was no longer a criminal offence in September 2018.

In April, the ruler of the tiny, oil-rich kingdom of Brunei announced he would introduce death by stoning for those convicted of gay sex.

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