Taiwan gay marriage: Parliament approves same-sex unions

Same-sex marriage supporters gather outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Taiwan. The signs read ''Vote Can't Be Defeated.''

Taiwan becomes the first country in Asia to approve same-sex marriage

At least 20 same-sex couples are planning a mass marriage registration in Taipei on May 24, a spokesman for the advocacy group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan said. She defended the government's bill as the only one to respect both the court judgment and the referendum.

"You will find that the sun still rises in the east and what you anxious about same-sex marriage doesn't exist at all", Legislator for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Yu Mei-nu said.

There were shouts of joy and some tearful embraces as the result was announced.

What does the bill entail?

The country's parliament voted in favor of a government bill offering same-sex couples similar rights to opposite-sex couples.

Marriage equality was part of President Tsai Ing-wen's 2016 campaign platform.

Several same-sex activists had said ahead of the vote that this was the only version they would accept.

She wrote: "Good morning #Taiwan".

The government's bill is, therefore, a compromise between the court ruling and the referendums.

More than two dozen countries around the world allow gay marriage, according to Pew Research.

In recent months, conservatives had mobilised to rid the law of any reference to marriage, instead putting forward rival Bills that offered something closer to limited same-sex unions.

What reaction has there been?

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The pair has also worked with Taiwan's 20-year-old LGBT movement, which is unusually vibrant for Asia because of free speech protections and lack of a strong organized religion.

To reduce the pressure DPP lawmakers may face from their conservative constituents, the Executive Yuan adopted a motion proposed by the DPP caucus the previous day that removed the sensitive term "same-sex marriage" from Article 2.

Others expressed opposition on social media. Couples will be entitled to key marriage rights on matters including taxation, insurance, and child custody.

The capital city Taipei is home to East Asia's largest gay pride parade - an event that regularly draws tens of thousands of participants.

"We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region", said Annie Huang, the acting director of Amnesty International Taiwan. Paul Ng, from Singapore, told the BBC he and his friends saw it as "an occasion to celebrate, even though we're not Taiwanese".

Wong Ka Ying, an LGBT artist in Hong Kong, said that Taiwan's decision would help raise awareness, although she doubted it would make an impact in "more conservative" places like Hong Kong or mainland China. Lawmakers stopped short of allowing same-sex marriage if one spouse is from a nation where such unions are illegal.

Elsewhere in Asia, laws are changing to reflect more tolerant attitudes towards LGBT groups.

The bill's supporters said gay couples had faced discrimination for too long.

However the approach differs in other Asian countries.

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