Taiwan becomes first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage

Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate in Taipei, Taiwan, on Friday. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE

May 17 (UPI) — Taiwan on Friday became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, a landmark decision that will take effect next week.

The new law allows two people of the same gender to register a marriage as long as at least two witnesses sign the registration document. It takes effect May 24.

Heavy rain didn’t deter 40,000 supporters from celebrating outside the legislature when the measure passed.

“It is a historic moment, and a victory for Taiwan,” said citizen Bruce Chu.

Under the new law, a spouse can adopt another’s biological children, but not non-biological ones. The two parties could serve as medical power of attorney and have the right to inherit the property of the other. Lawmakers stopped short of allowing same-sex marriage if one spouse is from a nation where such unions are illegal.

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The bill follows a 2017 ruling that Taiwan’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Supporters said gay couples have been discriminated against for too long.

“They don’t need to worry about that any more,” Democratic Progressive Party legislator Hsiao Bi-Khim said. “After today, there is no need for them to face discriminatory treatments from others.”

Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen said the bill shows “kindness and conscience” were still a force in the country.

“I congratulate our gay friends for being able to win society’s blessing, and I also want to say thanks to those who have different beliefs but still offered support for this law,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

There were some violent protests and some threatened to pull support from candidates who backed the new law.

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