Taiwan is the first Asian state which has legalised same-sex marriage, with the passage of legislation giving gay couples the right to marry.
Lawmakers comfortably passed part of a bill that would allow gay couples to enter into “exclusive permanent unions” and apply for marriage registration with government agencies.
Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, who campaigned on a platform of marriage equality, tweeted after the vote “We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.”
Thousands of gay rights supporters gathered in heavy rain outside parliament in the capital, Taipei, to watch a live broadcast of the proceedings. Supporters shouted “First in Asia!” after the article was passed.
Victoria Hsu, the founder and executive director of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said “The law will not be 100% perfect, but this is a good start and this is a major step to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now the law says everyone should be treated equally no matter who you are, who you love.”
Two years ago, Hsu’s team represented the LGBT activist Chi Chia-wei in a lawsuit that led Taiwan’s constitutional court to rule that the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional.
The government’s bill, is the only one to offer some adoption rights to same-sex couples, allowing spouses to adopt the biological children of their partner. Same-sex couples cannot co-adopt. Lawmakers were still debating adoption rights on Friday.
One of thousands of gay marriage supporters gathered outside parliament, told the crowd that we are just a group of people who want to live well on this land and who love each other.
The department of civil affairs said that, as of Thursday, 151 couples had made appointments to registerTaiwan, whose annual gay pride parade is the largest in the region, has long been a hub for LGBT activism. Advocates called for other Asian nations to follow its lead.
“We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region,” said Annie Huang, the acting director of Amnesty International Taiwan.
Activists said they would continue to push for more rights, such as recognition of transnational same-sex marriages, where one partner is from a country that does not recognise gay marriage.