Taiwan becomes first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan made history on May 17 as the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, after most lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) voted to pass a Cabinet-sponsored bill that gives gay couples the right to get married.

The bill, titled Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748, cleared the legislative floor at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

The new law will take effect May 24, allowing two persons of the same gender, aged 18 or older, to register a marriage, with at least two witnesses signing the registration document.

Either partner in the marriage will be allowed to adopt the biological children of the other, under the law. However, non-biological children who had been adopted by one partner before the marriage cannot be adopted by the other partner, it states.

The New Power Party (NPP) caucus had submitted a motion to amend Article 20 of the Cabinet’s bill to make possible the adoption of one partner’s non-biological children by the other, but it was not put to a vote after lawmakers passed the Cabinet’s version of the article on adoptions.

On the issue of same-sex transnational marriages, lawmakers voted 84-6 against an NPP motion to amend the Cabinet’s bill to allow transnational same-sex couples from any country to get married in Taiwan.

The NPP motion sought to exempt such couples from regulations stipulated in the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements, which state that the marriage of a transnational couple is governed by the laws of their respective countries.

Under that act, even with the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, a Taiwanese national would not be able to enter into a legally recognized union with a partner from a country where gay marriage is not legal.

By Stacy Hsu