Taiwan is set to become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, following a landmark court ruling.
The country’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that the law forbidding same-sex marriages violates the country’s constitution.
The court instructed authorities to enact laws legalising marriage equality within two years, and if they don’t same-sex couples will be able get their marriages recognized anyway with the submission of a document.
“Creation of a permanent union … for the committed purpose of managing a life together by two persons of the same sex will not affect the application of the Marriage Chapter to [an opposite-sex union],” the judges said in their ruling.
“Nor will it alter the social order established upon the existing opposite-sex marriage. The freedom of marriage for two persons of the same sex, once legally recognised, will constitute the collective basis, together with opposite-sex marriage, for a stable society.”
The court case was brought by local activist Chi Chia-wei, who argued the ban was unconstitutional after he tried unsuccessfully to register his marriage to his same-sex partner in capital city Taipei in 2013.
Both Taiwan’s ruling and major opposition parties support the reform, and several same-sex marriage bills are currently before the country’s lawmakers. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen promised to support marriage equality after winning office last year.
Live: Gay rights supporters in Taiwan celebrate after the Constitutional Court said banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. pic.twitter.com/TsOsJG9Tsp
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Veteran Australian LGBTI campaigner Rodney Croome said Taiwan’s decision is “bittersweet” because Australia is falling further behind.
“Australian legislators who refuse to allow marriage equality to pass by having a free vote in parliament are bringing ever more shame on our nation,” he said.
“Taiwan is traditionally a socially conservative society so its movement toward marriage equality should reassure social conservatives in Australia that the reform is not a radical one.”
The Equality Campaign executive director Tiernan Brady said over one billion people currently live in countries with marriage equality.
“The path is now clear for Taiwan as it is in Australia for both parliaments to simply legislate for marriage equality in line with the will of its citizens,” he said.
(Photo by JeanHavoc/Wikimedia Commons)