International

Taiwan approves same-sex marriage in a first for Asia

Same-sex marriage supporters hold umbrellas and rainbow flags as they take part in a rally during a parliament vote on three different draft bills of a same-sex marriage law, outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan.

Same-sex marriage supporters hold umbrellas and rainbow flags as they take part in a rally during a parliament vote on three different draft bills of a same-sex marriage law, outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

That makes Taiwan the first place in Asia with a comprehensive law both allowing and laying out the terms of same-sex marriage.

Taiwan’s legislature voted on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, in a first in Asia and a boost for LGBT rights activists who had championed the cause for two decades.

Lawmakers pressured by LGBT groups as well as church organizations opposed to the move approved most of a government-sponsored bill that recognizes same-sex marriages and gives couples many of the tax, insurance and child custody benefits available to male-female married couples.

That makes Taiwan the first place in Asia with a comprehensive law both allowing and laying out the terms of same-sex marriage.

Taiwan’s Constitutional Court in May 2017 said the constitution allows same-sex marriages and gave Parliament two years to adjust laws accordingly.

The court order mobilised LGBT advocacy groups pushing for fair treatment, as well as opponents among church groups and advocates of traditional Chinese family values.

“It’s a breakthrough, I have to say so. I could not imagine that could happen in just a few years,” said Shiau Hong-chi, professor of gender studies and communications management at Shih-Hsin University in Taiwan.

Thailand is also exploring the legalisation of same-sex civil partnerships.

Taiwan’s acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships began in the 1990s when leaders in today’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party championed the cause to help Taiwan stand out in Asia as an open society.

Opponents have raised fears of incest, insurance benefit scams and children confused by having two mothers or two fathers. Both sides of the issue have held colourful street demonstrations and lobbied lawmakers.

In November 2018, a majority of Taiwan voters rejected same-sex marriage in an advisory referendum.

Bills on the table Friday include one authored by the government. Another version plays to both sides of the debate by allowing marriages but with conditions such as calling them “unions” and imposing restrictions on adopting children.

Opinion surveys in 2012 and 2015 found that slight majorities of Taiwanese backed legalising same-sex marriage.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 4:41:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/taiwan-approves-same-sex-marriage-in-first-for-asia/article27157475.ece

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