Taiwanese Parliament passed Asia’s first same-sex marriage bill on Friday, reports say.
Members of the LGBTI community, who stood in front of the Parliament ignoring the heavy rain, welcomed the news by bursting into cheers, hugging each other, waving rainbow flags and flashing victory signs.
The new law will come into effect on Friday (May 24) after President Tsai Ing-wen signs the bill.
Tsai called the passage of the bill a big step towards true equality that made Taiwan a better country.
The bill allows same-sex couples to form exclusive permanent unions and apply for a marriage registration with government agencies.
Responding to the development, the Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said Taiwan has opened a new page in Asia.
The state unit of Amnesty International hoped the Parliament’s nod to legalise same-sex marriage will create waves across Asia and ensure equality for LGBTI community in the region.
Advocates of same-sex marriage called the new law a beacon of hope.
Gay rights groups said the provision to apply for a marriage registration ensured them partial parity with heterosexual couples.
But the new law does not come within the ambit of the civil code governing heterosexual couples. For example, it only allows for biological adoption and does not recognise marriages with foreigners.
Gay rights groups acknowledged that the new law is not perfect and more legal battles have to be fought over surrogacy and adoption.
Critics of the bill say it ignores the referendum held in November last year which rejected marriage beyond a union between a man and a woman.
Friday’s vote came as a blow to conservatives who tried to push watered-down bills offering limited same-sex unions.
China, which regards Taiwan as part of the mainland, has not responded to the passage of the new law.
Beijing has decriminalised homosexuality over a decade ago and it does not view gay-rights activists as a serious threat.
Australia and New Zealand have passed same-sex marriage laws in the Asia-Pacific region.