Taiwan to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

The top court of Taiwan gave its support to same-sex marriage on Wednesday, making Taiwan the first country in Asia to uphold gay marriage.
Supporters hug each other during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan May 24, 2017. Reuters/Tyrone Siu

The top court of Taiwan gave its support to same-sex marriage on Wednesday, making Taiwan the first country in Asia to uphold gay marriage.

The high court, known as the Judicial Yuan, recognized that marriage laws currently put in place under the Civil Code restrict "two persons of the same sex to create a permanent union of intimate and exclusive nature for the committed purpose of managing a life together" and are therefore in violation of "the people's freedom of marriage ... and the people's right to equality."

"The authorities concerned shall amend or enact relevant laws, in accordance with the ruling of this Interpretation, within two years from the issuance of this Interpretation," the top court said in a statement.

The high court gave parliament two years to do the necessary legal amendments, Reuters reported.

"If relevant laws are not amended or enacted within the said two years, two persons of the same sex who intend to create the said permanent union shall be allowed to have their marriage registration effectuated," it said.

The high court also said that "sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic that is resistant to change."

"The contributing factors to sexual orientation may include physical and psychological elements, living experience, and the social environment. Major medical associations have stated that homosexuality is not a disease. In our country, homosexuals were once denied by social tradition and custom in the past," the court said.

Upon amendment of these marriage laws, Taiwan would become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Although Taiwan is known for its liberal stance on many issues, Christian groups have consistently fought against same-sex marriage, asserting its possible negative effects on families and children, the Washington Post reported.  

LGBT rights activists celebrated the high court's ruling as hundreds of people who support gay marriage gathered near the parliament.

"This ruling has made me very happy," gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei said, according to Reuters. Chi petitioned the court to tackle the same-sex marriage issue.

Chi's lawyer, Victoria Hsu, considered the court's decision as a victory in the LGBT community's fight for equal marriage rights.

"This is a clear victory for equal rights in marriage and it is also a victory for all the people," Hsu said.

However, how far paliament will go with the amendments is yet to be seen. LGBT rights activists want the amendment to be a smple inclusion of same-sex marriage, but they fear that parliament would not favor the amendment and only add certain rights to same-sex couples, not legal union, according to the BBC.

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