05/17/2019, 13.14
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Taiwan, the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriages

The law was approved today. Starting on 24 May, gay couples, aged 18 and over, will be able to register their union, adopt their partner's biological children, have access to the same medical coverage, and inherit. Marriage is not allowed with people from countries where same-sex unions are not recognised.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – The island of Taiwan, the Republic of China, has become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriages.

The country’s parliament passed a law that allows gay couples to register their marriage, adopt the biological children of the other partner, transfer medical coverage, and inherit spouse’s assets.

Starting on 24 May, same-sex couples, aged 18 or over, will be able to register their marriage contract at the municipal offices, countersigned by two witnesses.

Despite pouring rain, a crowd of thousands holding signs, banners, and flowers gathered at parliament building and gave a loud round of applause when the law was approved this morning. They were confronted by thousands of counter-protesters opposed to the law (picture 2).

President Tsai Ing-wen immediately congratulated the gay community "for being able to win society’s blessing”. She also thanked all "those who have different beliefs" but backed the law.

Legalising same-sex marriage fulfils one of Tsai’s campaign promises, but is strongly opposed by conservative groups, Christians, and many ordinary Taiwanese.

According to some legislators, the decision tramples the will of the people. Last November, a majority of voters, 7.65 million against 2.9 million, voted in a referendum to retain the Civil Code's old definition of marriage as between a man and a woman

However, the Constitutional Court ruled in 2017 that same-sex couples in Taiwan have the same right to marry and if parliament did not enactea law within two years, same-sex marriage would be automatically allowed.

There is one limitation under the new act, namely that even if same-sex marriage is legalised in Taiwan, a Taiwanese national cannot enter into a legally recognised union with a partner from a country where gay marriage is not legal.

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