Taiwan Parliament endorses same-sex marriage

Taiwan Parliament endorses same-sex marriage

TAIPEI: Taiwan became the first nation in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, as thousands thronged outside the Parliament cheering and waving rainbow flags, despite deep divisions over the matter.

Lawmakers from the majority Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) backed the bill, which passed 66 to 27, though the measure could affect President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid to win a second term in presidential elections next year.

The bill, which offers same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals, will take effect after Tsai signs it into law.

“Today, we can show the world that #LoveWins,” added Tsai, who campaigned on a promise of marriage equality in the 2016 presidential election.

It was not immediately clear, however, if same-sex couples are entitled to key rights, such as adoption and cross-national marriage, with Parliament continuing to discuss the measure.

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.

‘Challenge for Tsai’

However, Friday’s measure could prove a challenge to Tsai’s bid for a second term in the presidential election next year, after a poll defeat last year for her, DPP was blamed partly on criticism of her reform agenda, including marriage equality.

Last year, Taiwan voters opposed same-sex marriage in a series of referendums, defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, while seeking a special law for such unions.

“How can we ignore the result of the referendums, which demonstrated the will of the people?” asked John Wu, a legislator from the opposition Kuomintang party.

“Can we find an appropriate compromise? We need more dialogue in the society.”

Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people’s will.

“The will of some seven million people in the referendum has been trampled,” one group, the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation said in a statement. “The public will strike back in 2020.”