18 | JUL | 2019
First In Asia: Taiwan passes same-sex marriage bill
A push for same-sex marriage has been slow elsewhere in Asia, where socially conservative attitudes still prevail - Photo:

First In Asia: Taiwan passes same-sex marriage bill

22/05/2019
15:42
Reuters
Taipei
Beh Lih Yi
-A +A
A push for same-sex marriage has been slow elsewhere in Asia, where socially conservative attitudes still prevail

Taiwan’s parliament legalized gay marriage last week, reinforcing its reputation as a beacon of liberalism in Asia, but the move has divided the self-ruled island.

The bill, which offers same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage to heterosexuals, will take effect on Friday.

The bill passed just days before a deadline set by a top court which ruled in 2017 that Taiwan must legalize same-sex marriage by May 24—and it was not without controversy.

Two-thirds of voters in a November referendum voted to retain the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman under the current civil law.
 

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Same-sex marriage in Taiwan will be allowed under a separate new law—a move government said respected both the court ruling and the referendum results.

Even then, conservative and religious groups tried to stage a last-ditch attempt last week for a watered-down version of the bill which offered fewer protections but failed.

There will be limitations under the new law, however.

It allows same-sex marriages only between Taiwanese, or with foreigners whose countries recognize same-sex marriage.

Same-sex couples will only be allowed to adopt children biologically related to at least one of them.

“It’s still a compromise version (of what we wanted) but it’s the closest to our ideal expectations,” said Jennifer Lu, the chief coordinator of the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, an alliance that spearheads the gay unions' campaign.
 

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A push for same-sex marriage has been slow elsewhere in Asia, where socially conservative attitudes still prevail.

Thailand has drafted a civil partnership bill that would legally recognize same-sex couples as civil partners, but LGBT+ activists said it does not grant marriage equality.

The same-sex marriage issue has become a political hot potato for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who campaigned on a promise for marriage equality in the run-up to 2016 polls.

It had become divisive even within her ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which suffered a poll defeat last year that was blamed partly on Tsai’s reform agenda.

The new measure could also undermine her bid to seek a second term in elections next year.

The Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, which has campaigned against gay marriage, warned the public would “strike back” at the next general election in 2020.

“The will of some seven million people in the referendum has been trampled,” the group said in a statement.
 

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