Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage on Friday (17 May).
The country’s parliament voted in favor of a government bill offering same-sex couples similar rights to opposite-sex couples.
It comes after years of court rulings, referendums, and tussles in parliament.
The bill passed with 93 lawmakers voting for the bill, 66 opposing, and 27 abstaining.
Thousands of LGBTI rights supporters gathered outside parliament cheered as the vote was announced.
It was the result of work by LGBTI groups over the last 30 years, said Benson Lee of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan.
‘Legislators have come forward and stood on the side of love’ he told Gay Star News.
He said the movement will not stop here. ‘We will continue our work in eradicating discrimination and bullying and defending LGBTI education’.
In a last-minute effort to appease conservative lawmakers, Taiwan’s ruling party on Friday removed the word ‘marriage’ from the bill.
But, same-sex couples can still get register for marriage in the same way as other couples.
The law will only recognize marriages between Taiwanese and foreigners if the foreigner comes from a country where same-sex marriage is permitted.
Couples can only adopt children if the child is the biological child of one of the couple.
President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to sign the bill before a court deadline to legalize same-sex marriage.
Taiwan is the regional leader for LGBTI rights. Thailand’s ruling junta last year submitted a union bill to cabinet, affording limited rights to same-sex couples.
Taiwan was rushing to pass a bill before a 24 May court deadline.
In 2017, Taiwan’s highest court ruled the Civil Code was unconstitutional because it did not recognize same-sex marriages. Judges gave lawmakers a two-year deadline to legislate.
But, in a devastating referendum in November 2018. Taiwan voters opted for a separate law to legalize same-sex unions rather than to change the Civil Code.
The government’s bill is, therefore, a compromise between the court ruling and the referendums.
Activists complained that the bill failed to offer genuine equality in line with the Constitutional Court ruling.
Many LGBTI couples, however, accepted the bill as a compromise after the devastating referendum results.
Since then, anti-LGBTI lawmakers introduced two more bills to parliament.
In March, LGBTI families slammed an opposition party bill as ‘homophobic‘. It does not include terms such as ‘marriage’ or ’spouse’.
Last week, lawmakers and activists slammed a second bill as ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unconstitutional’.
It would allow relatives to launch a court appeal if they believe the marriage is ‘fake’.