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Taiwan first Asian country to OK marriage
2017-05-24

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On May 24, Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry—making it the first Asian country to approve same-sex marriage.

The court, known as the Judicial Yuan, said current marriage laws were "in violation of both the people's freedom of marriage ... and the people's right to equality," and it provided two years for legal amendments to allow same-sex marriage.

Hundreds of supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in the streets to celebrate the ruling.

HRC press release:

Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) hailed a decision by Taiwan's Constitutional Court in favor of marriage equality, paving the way for it to be the first in Asia to achieve such a victory.

"The decision by Taiwan's Constitutional Court is a huge victory in ensuring the right of loving and committed same-sex couples to marry," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "We congratulate the Marriage Equality Coalition in Taiwan who worked tirelessly to make this momentous day a reality, and we urge the National Yuan to take swift action facilitating the court's decision. Coming at a time when LGBTQ people around the globe are being targeted and harassed just because of who they are, this victory reinvigorates our crucially important work to advance equality."

In a case brought by a veteran LGBTQ activist with support from authorities in the capital city of Taipei, the court ruled that denying same-sex couples the ability to marry is a "violation of both the people's freedom of marriage as protected by Article 22 and the people's right to equality as guaranteed by Article 7 of the [Taiwan] Constitution."

The National Yuan, or legislature, will now need to amend the relevant marriage laws to facilitate the court's decision. If the legislature fails to do so within two years, marriage equality will automatically become the law of the land.

Two HRC Global Innovators — Jennifer Lu, from the inaugural HRC's Global Innovative Advocacy Summit class in 2016, and Sean Sih-Cheng Du, from this year's class — have been working with the Marriage Equality Coalition in Taiwan.

The odds of achieving marriage equality in Taiwan increased dramatically last January when Taiwan elected pro-equality candidate Tsai Ing-Wen as Taiwan's first female president. A member of the Democratic Progressive Party, the president publicly declared her support for marriage equality in a short video in October 2015 on the day of Taipei Pride. Three HRC staff were on the ground in Taipei that day, marching alongside more than 80,000 people. Taipei Pride that year set the record as Asia's largest ever Pride gathering.

Polls show that a large majority of the Taiwanese public support marriage equality, despite vocal opposition from a small, but influential, minority.


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