#LoveWon: Taiwan legalises same-sex marriage in landmark first for Asia

A supporter stands outside the parliament building as the debate over the three draft bills of the same-sex marriage law continued

Taiwan will decide whether to pass Asia's first gay marriage law on Friday as conservative lawmakers launch a last-ditch attempt to scupper the bill despite a court ruling ordering same-sex marital equality.

But the government's bill, also the only one to offer limited adoption rights, was passed by 66 to 27 votes - backed by lawmakers from the majority Democratic Progressive Party.

Tens of thousands of gay rights supporters, who turned out in spite of heavy rain, cheered outside the parliament building in central Taipei after lawmakers voted in favour of the bill.

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.

The landmark decision cements Taiwan's reputation as a beacon of liberalism in a region where the LGBT community faces increasing persecution, and will give a long-awaited boost to Asia's burgeoning gay rights movement.

However, same-sex marriage has caused division in Taiwan ever since Taiwan's top court ruled that defining marriage as being between only a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

Two women take a selfie as they celebrate the Taiwanese parliament's vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

But gay rights groups have said they were willing to accept compromises, as long as the new law recognised the concept of marriage, adding they could fight legal battles over surrogacy and adoption down the line.

Religion, conservative values and political systems that discourage LGBT activism have slowed momentum toward same-sex marriage in many Asian countries from Japan through much of Southeast Asia, although Thailand is exploring the legalization of same-sex civil partnerships.

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Article 1 of the Cabinet's version reads: "This act was formulated to enable two persons of the same sex to form a permanent bond that is intimate and exclusive for the goal of managing a life together, thereby ensuring that the right to marriage is equal and protected".

President Tsai Ing-wen hailed the vote as a "big step towards true equality" that "made Taiwan a better country".

But gay marriage is divisive in Taiwan.

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

"What a tremendous victory for LGBT rights!" said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Taiwan's vote sets it apart from other parts of Asia where LGBTQ rights have regressed. "Many of us were in tears".

"In Taiwan a marriage will take effect when it's registered, so allowing marriage registration is no doubt recognising the marriage itself", Victoria Hsu, a gay rights lawyer, told AFP.

Vietnam decriminalised gay marriage celebrations in 2015, but stopped short of granting full legal recognition for same-sex unions.

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