Taiwan Becomes First Asian Country to Legalize Gay Marriage

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Taiwan Becomes First Asian Country to Legalize Gay Marriage

Some surprising news today out of Taiwan, a country where 67% of the population rejected same-sex marriage in a national referendum less than six months ago—the national legislature has voted to legalize the practice of same-sex marriage, and the law will go into effect on May 24. From CNN:

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.

Conservative groups in the country have been campaigning against the possibility of the law—they wanted something more akin to unions—but after thousands demonstrated, the marriage bill passed over two other less comprehensive rival bills.

The fight has been going on for decades, but the impetus for the passage of the legalization bill came in 2015, when an activist named Chi Chia-wei asked the nation’s constitutional court to rule on a civil code defining marriage as between a man and woman. That ruling came down two years later, when the court said it was, in fact, unconstitutional. The two-year deadline started that day, culminating in the passage of the bill.

As CNN notes, the vote differentiates Taiwan from its massive neighbor to the north:

In mainland China, where homosexuality is legal but prejudices and discrimination against LGBT people persist under Communist Party rule, an author of same-sex erotic fiction was sent to jail for 10 years in November.

Around Asia, similar examples of discrimination abound, and Taiwan is the first nation in the largest continent on earth to legalize same-sex marriage.

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