Taiwan to become first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage

Taiwan will become the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, after a landmark ruling by the constitutional court.

The court ruled on Wednesday that a civil law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

The Taiwan News reported the court ruled that parliament has two years to either amend the law or create a new law.

Secretary General of the Judicial Yuan Lu Tai-lang said that because civil code states: "An agreement to marry shall be made by the male and the female parties" this excludes couples that are of the same sex and is therefore unconstitutional.

The landmark case was brought by gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei after the Taipei city government rejected his application to marry his long term partner in 2013.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen promised to support the right for marriage equality after winning office last year.

A tragic incident in which a French professor who had been unable to marry his Taiwanese partner of 35 years committed suicide appeared to have propelled a push for legal change.

Taiwan's The China Post reported that a draft bill by Ms Tsai's ruling Democratic Progressive Party was proposed in December to replace the words "male and female parties" in the Civil Code's marriage chapter with "two parties".

The ruling said that if the law is not changed within two years, two persons of the same sex shall be allowed to have their marriage registration "effectuated at the authorities in charge of household registration".

Taiwan becomes the 23rd country to legalise marriage equality. It joins the United States, Colombia, Ireland and Finland which did so in the past two years.

(Source: SMH by Kristy Needham 25/05/2017)