In first for Asia, Taiwan lawmakers back same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage supporters shout during a parliament vote on three draft bills of a same-sex marriage law outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Friday

Same-sex marriage supporters shout during a parliament vote on three draft bills of a same-sex marriage law outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Friday

The government's bill, the most progressive of the three, is the only one to offer some adoption rights to same-sex couples, allowing spouses to adopt the biological children of their partner.

The 27-article bill, titled Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748, cleared the legislative floor at 3:30 p.m. Friday against the backdrop of loud cheers from tens of thousands of gay marriage supporters gathered outside the Legislative Yuan.

The DPP caucus added the word "marriage" to Article 4, which stipulates that after signing a certificate, which must also bear the signatures of two witnesses, two people of the same sex may register "their marriage" at a household registration office.

"For me the outcome today is not 100 percent flawless, but it's still pretty good for the gay community as it provides legal definition", added Elias Tseng, a gay pastor who was among the crowds outside parliament.

In the last decade, Taiwan has been one of the most progressive societies in Asia when it comes to gay rights, staging the continent's biggest annual gay pride parade.

The vote followed a years-long tussle over marriage equality that culminated in a 2017 declaration by the democratic island's constitutional court giving same-sex couples the right to marry, and setting a deadline of May 24 for legislation.

Mainland China, ruled by the authoritarian Communist Party, remains much more conservative and officials have repeatedly discouraged even the discussion of legalizing same-sex marriage.

They told the government they had to make it a law within two years.

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, a supporter of the law, tweeted: "On May 17th, 2019 in Taiwan, LoveWon".

Despite the spread of same-sex marriage in a few regions since 2001, gay and lesbian couples are permitted to marry in only about two dozen of the world's almost 200 countries.

In Indonesia, declining secularism has led to deepening discrimination against the country's gay, lesbian and transgender communities.

The vote is a major victory for the island's LGBT community who have campaigned for years to have similar of equal marriage rights as heterosexual couples and places the island at the vanguard of Asia's burgeoning gay rights movement.

Anti-marriage equality groups expressed their dismay, saying lawmakers ignored a 2018 referendum result showing the people's will that marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman.

Taiwan has always been something of a beacon for LGBT rights in East Asia.

The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights told media the vote meant Taiwan is "successfully striding toward a new page of history!" .

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

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