Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to recognise same-sex marriage in a parliamentary vote on Friday (May 17).
Hundreds of people awaited the result of the vote outside the legislative assembly in the capital Taipei, under the pouring rain.
They erupted in joy at the news of the law passing.
”Good morning #Taiwan. Today, we have a chance to make history & show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society,” tweeted Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party pushed through the law in a vote on Friday.
“On May 17th, 2019 in
#Taiwan, #LoveWon. We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country,” the president added, including a LGBT+ pride flag emoji in her tweet.
May 17 also marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
Legislators voted for a government-backed bill that would define a union between a same-sex couple as a marriage. Conservative opponents had proposed rival bills that would define partnerships as “same-sex unions” or “same-sex familial relationships.”
Critics of the bill argue that it ignored the result of a referendum on same-sex marriage triggered by a public petition and held in Taiwan in November, in which 72 percent of voters backed a ban on marriage equality.
The May 17 vote comes a week ahead of the two-year anniversary of the ruling by Taiwan’s top court ordering the parliament to legalise marriage equality.
The court had found that Article 972 of the Civil Code, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional after the case was brought forward by LGBT+ rights activist Chi Chia-wei.
“The first in Asia! Taiwan has human rights!” the activist said, addressing same-sex marriage supporters who had gathered to celebrate the news.
The bill legalising same-sex marriage will be enacted next Friday, May 24 and dozens of same-sex couples have already signed up for marriage registration in Taipei since the service became available to them last month.