Lifestyle Culture and Society 15 May 2019 Will Asia witness fi ...

Will Asia witness first gay marriage?

AFP
Published May 15, 2019, 11:29 am IST
Updated May 15, 2019, 11:31 am IST
Taiwan gay couples plan weddings even as opponents fight back.
Conservatives have tabled two other versions which noticeably avoid the word marriage, and offer something closer to same-sex unions with no adoption rights. (Photo: AFP)
 Conservatives have tabled two other versions which noticeably avoid the word marriage, and offer something closer to same-sex unions with no adoption rights. (Photo: AFP)

Taipei: At the cake shop they run in Taipei, Shane Lin and Marc Yuan are planning their upcoming wedding as they expectantly await Asia's first gay marriage law but a last-minute push by conservatives could scupper their dreams.

The pair, who met and fell in love at college, are among hundreds of same-sex couples who have made reservations to register with government agencies on May 24 for what they hope will be a marriage.

 

That is the deadline set by Taiwan's top court to allow same-sex couples to legally wed. In a landmark 2017 ruling, judges said denying gay couples the right to marry violated the island's constitution. The court gave lawmakers two years to make marriage equality happen or see it enacted automatically if they failed, a move that promises a new milestone for Asia.

For gay couples like Lin, 31 and Yuan, 30 who decided to tie the knot as they celebrated their tenth anniversary the ruling allowed them to start planning for their big day. "Taiwan may often be overlooked internationally but the things we have done are visionary and with purpose, which we can be proud of," said Lin, referring to the ruling.

Yet with less than a fortnight to go, Taiwan's LGBT community still don't know what marriage equality will look like because the legislation has yet to be conclusively decided.  Gay rights groups hoped the government would simply amend the civil code marriage clauses to include homosexual couples, a move they said would grant the truest form of equality.

But President Tsai Ing-wen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) dithered for months after the ruling, tabling no proposed law or changes.

Opponents mobilised and organised a series of referendums in November, in which voters comprehensively rejected defining marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman, weakening the government's legislative hand.

The fight for same-sex marriage has finally landed in the legislature where, on Friday, three rival bills will be voted on just a week before the deadline. The most progressive bill, which most gay rights groups have begrudgingly backed is the governments. It is the only one to use the word "marriage" and offer some limited adoption rights.

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