Taiwan Makes History As Court Approves Same-Sex Marriage; Conservatives Protest Decision

In a historic move that has angered and disappointed conservatives, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage following a high court ruling on Wednesday recognizing the union of two people with the same sexual orientation.

Taiwan pro-LGBT rally
Supporters react during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, in Taipei, Taiwan on May 24, 2017. |

As expected, LGBT communities worldwide applauded the court's decision, but not everybody was rejoicing.

In its report, Al Jazeera said the conservatives in the island state are likely to protest against the decision and to call for a referendum.

"They are angry and disappointed," Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown said. "They say it's time for all Taiwanese people to have their say in this debate, and claim a cultural convention is under attack."

Andrew Chang, a spokesman from the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan, said he expects that "family conflicts will increase and the whole definition of marriage will be changed," according to the Inquistr.

Chang said same-sex marriage will disrupt ancestral lineage and family structure.

On Wednesday, 12 out of 14 judges of the Judicial Yuan voted that the marriage laws currently in place "violate the constitutional rights of same-sex couples."

In its decision, the court said it recognizes that the needs of heterosexuals are the same as those of the homosexuals and should be given the same protection under Article 22 of the constitution.

The court ruling also cited an article in Taiwan's Constitution stating that "all citizens of the Republic of China, irrespective of sex, religion, race, class, or party affiliation, shall be equal before the law."

The court's landmark decision excited LGBT activists in Taiwan who expressed optimism that their movement will reach other places in Asia.

However, the Voice of America (VOA) reported that this is unlikely to happen. The culture in Japan and the Christian population in South Korea would reject same-sex marriage, experts say.

The dominant Islamic faith in Indonesia and Malaysia is also likely serve as a barrier to same-sex marriage, they say. In the mostly Catholic Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he opposes same-sex union.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's historic court ruling widened the political gap with China, according to Bloomberg.

The ruling, according to observers, undermines Chinese leader Xi Jinping's appeals to shared culture when he called for peaceful reunification. Although China and Taiwan share a common history, language and other customs, they risk wider separation as Taiwan deepens its embrace of Western democracy and civil liberties, the Bloomberg report says.

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