Taiwan court rules same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional

Marchers advocating same-sex marriage demonstrate in Taipei, Taiwan, in 2016. Taiwan's highest court ruled Wednesday that current civil law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Photo by David Chang/EPA

May 24 (UPI) — Taiwan’s highest court ruled Wednesday that current civil law prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The Council of Grand Justices gave the Taiwanese parliament, known as the Legislative Yuan, two years to amend Article 972 of the country’s civil code, or write a new law, reflecting that agreements to marry can be undertaken by two people of the same sex. The court’s decision effectively legalizes same-sex marriage, taking Taiwan one step closer to becoming Asia’s first country to recognize same-sex marriage.

“Our target is to complete this whole process within this year,” Taiwanese same-sex activist Wayne Lin told CNN.

Legislation to redraft the law stalled in the Taiwanese parliament prior to the ruling, but President Tsai Ing-wen expressed support for same-sex marriage during her 2016 presidential campaign.

LGBT communities elsewhere in Asia face persecution. South Korea’s military has cracked down on gay people within its ranks, and while some cities in Japan have legalized same-sex marriage, Japanese law does not protect LGBT people from discrimination.

Indonesia’s government generally does not oppose gay lifestyles, but two men were publicly caned in ultra-conservative Aceh province, earlier this week; they were convicted after a vigilante group entered their residence and caught them in bed together. Although activists in China contend that persecution still exists, homosexuality was removed from the Chinese government’s official list of mental disorders in 2001.

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