Taiwan is one step closer to legalizing gay marriage after the country’s top court deemed that its current marriage laws are unconstitutional.
According to the Associated Press, justices of Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that the island’s current laws, which state marriage is between a man and a woman, violate the Constitution’s articles on safeguarding human dignity and equality.
The Legislative Yuan, the country’s parliament, has two years to change or introduce new laws, positioning Taiwan to potentially become the first country in Asia to allow gay marriage. However, according to the court’s explanation, gay couples will still be able to legally marry in 2019, even if lawmakers don’t pass such legislation. Draft legislation is already traveling through parliament (both political parties support gay marriage) but has stalled.
CNN reports that the decision came in response to two 2015 requests for a court ruling on Taiwan’s marriage laws, one from Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist in the country, and another from Taipei’s local government after three couples filed an administrative suit against them because their marriage registrations were rejected.
Wednesday’s ruling was met with gratuitous applause outside the legislature, where hundreds gathered in support of gay marriage, with rainbow flags and noisemakers in tow, AP reported.
Live: Gay rights supporters in Taiwan celebrate after the Constitutional Court said banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. pic.twitter.com/TsOsJG9Tsp— The News Lens International (@thenewslensintl) May 24, 2017
Taiwan gay marriage supporters cry with joy after landmark Asian ruling pic.twitter.com/V2DhMFDyPq— AFP news agency (@AFP) May 24, 2017
Taiwan is home to the largest gay pride parade in Asia, attracting tens of thousands of participants each year. In other parts of the continent, however, countries have moved to crack down on the LGBTQ community. According to CNN, communities in South Korea and Indonesia have faced increased persecution.
While a few cities in Japan have legalized same-sex partnerships, the LGBTQ community isn’t protected from discrimination in the country. And while being gay isn’t a crime in China, activists say prejudice and discrimination continue. Meanwhile, only 22 of nearly 200 countries in the world have legalized gay marriage, and more than 70 criminalize homosexual activity, AP reported.
“I hope that the legislators will have the moral courage to pass same-sex marriage into law. However, it is hard to predict how long it will take, at this moment,” Yu Mei-nu, a Taiwanese legislator, told CNN. “The opposition toward gay marriage in Taiwan won’t just gladly accept it and give up the debate, so the debate will continue.”