Taiwan court rules in favour of same sex marriage

Court paves way for same-sex marriage in Taiwan

Billy H.C. Kwok Getty Images

According to reports, the court agreed that Taiwan's current Civil Code, which stipulates that marriage must be between a man and a woman, violates constitutional guarantees of freedom of marriage and equality.

Hundreds of same-sex marriage supporters celebrated in Taipei outside the legislature, in a demonstration held by gay rights group Marriage Equality Coalition.

While China took homosexuality off its official list of psychiatric disorders in 2001, it is still a long way from legalizing same-sex marriage as gay couples in China have found courts reluctant to uphold their rights.

Gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei was one of the petitioners who brought the case to the Constitutional Court.

He had told news agency AFP that he was "100% confident" that the ruling would go in his favour.

Yu said the court's explanation means that even if lawmakers do not pass legislation allowing same-sex marriage in the next two years, gay couples will still be able to marry by this time in 2019.

Mr Chi spent 162 days in prison in 1986 after submitting his first petition asking for gay marriage to be recognised.

The decision is binding, so a ruling in his favour would pave the way for same-sex unions to be legalised. This led to its first national election in 1996.

The ruling is likely to reverberate around the region, with calls for marriage equality rising in a number of countries, including South Korea and Japan.

Lawyer Huang Di-ying said the court's decision was "historic". "This is a step forward in human rights", said the 60-year-old retiree, who asked that only his first name be used.

Taiwan has always been considered a beacon of LGBT rights in Asia, specifically for its annual Taipei gay pride march, the largest in Asia.

The chair of Tsai's rival party Kuomintang (KMT), Wu Den-yih, seemed to rejoice at the ruling, posting the picture of a rainbow on Facebook and changing his status to "feeling great".

The LGBT community hopes legislators will simply amend the existing marriage laws to include same-sex couples, which would grant them the same rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples, including in cases of adoption, parenting and inheritance - and making decisions for each other in medical emergencies.

Jamie, who has been in a relationship with his partner for 22 years, said the ruling was a milestone for Taiwanese society.

Groups opposing same-sex marriage, including Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, protested outside the Judicial Yuan after the result came out.

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