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Taiwan recorded nearly 3,000 same-sex weddings in the year since historic legalisation

Josh Milton February 22, 2020
Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside the parliament in Taipei on May 17, 2019. - Taiwan's parliament legalised same-sex marriage on May 17, 2019, in a landmark first for Asia as the government survived a last-minute attempt by conservatives to pass watered-down legislation.

Supporters of same-sex marriage in Taiwan celebrate outside the parliament in Taipei on May 17, 2019. (Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty)

Typically drab and droll household registration offices across Taiwan exploded with colour after the courts legalised marriage equality, paving the way for nearly 3,000 same-sex weddings in a single year.

One couple after another embraced their new legal right to register their marriage – 2,939 to be exactly, according to Ministry of the Interior statistics released Saturday.

In May 2019, Legislative Yuan lawmakers pushed through a bill that paved the way for Taiwan to become the first place in Asia to recognise same-sex marriage, following a long and topsy-turvy battle by LGBT+ activists to struggle to obtain the historic right.

Since the groundbreaking vote, New Taipei has led with the registration of 614 same-sex marriages, followed by Taipei with 484 and Kaohsiung 396, according to the statistics.

Nationwide, 928 male couples and 2,011 female couples, the data showed, became newlyweds in the last year.

Taiwan’s race to equalise marriage was against the clock.

The fight for equality first started in 2016 with the election of Tsai Ing-wen, the first Taiwanese president to voice approval for same-sex marriage. Her outspoken support generated excitement among the LGBT+ community, but conservative lawmakers mobilised to broadside the campaign.

Bills from the Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party were left in limbo.

President elected Tsai Ing-wen flanked by her running mate William Lai and her party, DPP, heavyweight thanks the large crowd gathered in front of the Taipei DPP Headquarters. (Alberto Buzzola/LightRocket via Getty Images)
President elected Tsai Ing-wen flanked by her running mate William Lai and her party, DPP, heavyweight thanks the large crowd gathered in front of the Taipei DPP Headquarters. (Alberto Buzzola/LightRocket via Getty Images)

But after the courts struck down the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as exclusively between a man ands a woman in 2017, activists had to act fast to pressure lawmakers.

This was heightened by a deadline imposted by the constitutional court.

Two years, the court said, is all the time the government has to change history itself. Or same-sex couples would automatically be allowed to have their marriages registered by the local authorities.

As national urgency surged, what legislators did pass went up and beyond what the courts asked for. Out of three pitches marriage bills, legislators voted for the most progressive.

The DPP’s bill recognised unions as marriages, the same as heterosexual couples, and defined partners as spouses.

Moreover, the bill also allowed same-sex couples to adopt each other’s biological children, but not adopt non-biological children.

More: mariage equality, same sex marriage, Taiwan

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