Same-sex marriage is not allowed anywhere in Asia, but that is set to change soon, thanks to the island nation of Taiwan.
On Wednesday, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, saying that Taiwan’s legal definition of marriage — as being only between a man and a woman — violated articles of the constitution that protect human dignity and equality. The court gave authorities two years to change relevant marriage laws, and a bill to enforce the ruling is already working its way through the legislature.
The court’s decision was greeted with applause in Taipei (pronounced tie-pay), the capital, where hundreds had gathered with rainbow flags and noisemakers. Surveys show a majority of Taiwanese support same-sex marriage.
Jamie, who has been in a relationship with his partner for 22 years, said the ruling was a milestone for Taiwanese society.
“I am so touched,” said the 60-year-old, who asked that only his first name be used. “Finally we’ve reached this moment. This represents Taiwan’s human rights. This is a step forward in human rights.”
Despite the spread of same-sex marriage in a few regions since 2001, gay and lesbian couples had been allowed to marry in only 22 of the world’s nearly 200 countries. More than 70 countries continue to criminalize same-sex relationships.