TAIPEI – Gay couples will begin to register for legal marriage in Taiwan on Friday, after it became the first Asian country to recognize same-sex union.
LGBT activists erected an archway for couples to walk along a red carpet, made from a rainbow flag, to a stage near the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei on Thursday.
Staff members at a household registration office in the city have put rainbow flags on desks to prepare for gay couples’ registration.
The country’s parliament, the Legislative Yuan, approved a bill to legalize gay marriage last week.
The country’s top court ruled in 2017 that homosexual couples should have the same marriage rights as heterosexuals, and gave parliament a two-year deadline, which expires on May 24, to implement or make amendments to the law.
Legislators considered three bills on the legalization of same-sex union and the most progressive of the three proposals was ultimately approved.
President Tsai-Ing wen wrote on Twitter after the vote in parliament: “On May 17th, 2019 in Taiwan, #LoveWon. We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.”
More than 35,000 people braved a heavy downpour to march to the parliament building in Taipei to urge lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage.
Ahead of the vote, President Tsai had urged parliament to “make history and show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society.”
While the ruling has been welcomed by progressives, the issue has divided the island.
Tseng Hsien-ying, president of the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, said that Taiwan had voted in a referendum in November last year in favor of maintaining the definition of traditional marriage in the Penal Code and said the government was “trampling on the will of the people.”
In February, the Taiwanese government had presented a bill that laid the legal framework for same-sex unions without changing the Civil Code.
The bill sought to combine the outcome of the Nov. 24 referendum – which demanded that the traditional definition of marriage not be changed – with an earlier constitutional interpretation allowing for equal rights for homosexuals, government spokesperson Kolas Yotaka had said at the time.