May 24, 2017

Taiwan: Constitutional Court Rules in Favour of Gay Marriage

Photo courtesy of AFP

Following the deliberation of the 14 judges of the Taiwan’s Constitutional Court, the highest national court has ruled today [24 May 2017] in favour of the gay marriage, which makes Taiwan  the first country in Asia to recognise marriage between two persons of the same sex. The court gave two years to the legislature to either amend the law or to create a new law that is in line with the decision.


This article has been published by the BBC:

The highest court has ruled on a constitutional challenge to current laws, which say that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The parliament is now forced to amend the laws or pass new ones.

Wednesday's decision came as the LGBT community faces increasing persecution in the region.

The court's ruling that the current ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional means Taiwan's parliament will have to amend existing laws or pass new legislation to legalise such marriages.

But it's still unclear how far parliament will go.

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 adoption, parenting, inheritance, and making decisions for each other in medical emergencies.

They fear parliament won't do that and will instead pass a new law that recognises same-sex marriages and gives them only some rights, but not equal treatment in all matters.

Religious and parents groups opposed to the move say they will lobby parliament to not pass any laws on legalisation. They argue such an important matter that affects the whole of society shouldn't be decided by just a few grand justices, but by the people in a referendum.

Both sides will now focus their attention on persuading the legislators.

Self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims sovereignty over, is known for its liberal values and holds the biggest annual gay pride event in the region.

Momentum for marriage equality has been building since last year, when President Tsai Ing-wen, who is openly supportive of the move, came to power.

But the debate has prompted a backlash, with mass protests by conservatives in recent months.

Now that the 14-judge panel has ruled in favour of the legal challenge, the parliament, known as the Legislative Yuan, will begin the process of amending the laws.

They can now either legalise same-sex marriage or introduce new separate civil partnership legislation.

A bill to legalise same-sex marriages is already making its way through parliament, but that process has slowed because of opposition from traditionalists, who do not want Taiwan to become the first place in Asia to allow such weddings.