Taiwan last week became first place in Asia to recognize same-sex unions, in what is considered a landmark achievement for LGTBQ rights. On Friday, the first couples began tying the knot at Taipei’s Xinyi District Household Registration office.
Hundreds of same-sex couples exchanged vows, according to Time magazine. Throngs of reporters with cameras filled the office, alongside couples dressed to wed, as the unions were made legal.
The legislature of the island near China voted last week, 66 to 27, to recognize the marriages, beating a two-year deadline established by Taiwan’s high court on May 24, 2017. The court ruled then, Nick Aspinwall wrote in The Washington Post, that barring same-sex couples from marrying violated the Taiwanese constitution.
Conservative opposition followed, and Taiwanese voters in a November 2018 public referendum chose not to extend full rights to same-sex couples. But the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) helped pass legislation that provides same-sex couples with child custody, tax and insurance benefits.
On Friday, couples basked in the glow of matrimony.
“Taiwan’s gay people have gone through a tough path,” Shane Lin, who married Marc Yuan, said during a post-wedding news conference, according to Inkstone News, which transcribed a video from ETtoday. “Today I can openly tell everyone, in front of so many people, that we are getting married and we are gay.”
The news resonated across the world.
Ellen DeGeneres, a television show host and one of the most prominent gay people in the United States, shared her reaction on Twitter:
To some, it was but a step. A 2017 map from foreignpolicy.com shows that same-sex unions legal across North America, and in many countries in South America and Europe, and almost none in Africa or Asia.
Thailand has proposed a law to recognize civil partnerships, but same-sex unions remain illegal elsewhere in Asia, Aspinwall wrote. And in Africa on Friday, Kenya’s high court upheld a law that makes same-sex relations a crime, Bloomberg News reported.
Chi Chia-wei, a gay rights activist in Taiwan for more than 30 years, told the New York Times, “Progress is good. More progress is even better.”
The mood in Taiwan on Friday, however, remained festive. Here are some photos from the ceremonies: