Lawmakers in Taiwan have approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in a landmark decision that makes the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to pass gay marriage legislation.
The vote came almost two years after the island’s Constitutional Court ruled that the existing law; which said marriage was between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. The panel of judges gave the island’s parliament two years to amend or enact new laws.
On Friday, only a week off the two-year deadline lawmakers in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality and it will go into effect on May 24.
Tens of thousands of people braved pouring rain Friday to demonstrate in favor of same-sex marriage outside the parliament, where lawmakers were voting on three draft bills. The successful Cabinet bill was backed by LGBTQ groups, despite the fact it creates a law different to straight marriage.
For instance, under Cabinet’s bill, a Taiwanese person could not marry foreigners from countries where same-sex marriage is not legal. Thousands turned of gay rights activists, many bearing umbrellas, rainbow flags and rainbow placards, gathered in heavy rain in the capital Taipei in support of marriage equality.
Although the island has a large gay community and its annual gay pride parade is the biggest in Asia, the issue of marriage equality has divided Taiwanese society. In a controversial referendum in November last year, 67% voted to reject same-sex marriage.
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