Taiwan made history last week with the passage of a new law making same-sex marriage legal. Last Friday was first day marriage registration opened to same-sex couples. And over 500 couples immediately took advantage.
The progressive law is the first of its kind in Asia, a fact that gives many Taiwanese couples great pride. Kristin Huang, who filled out marriage paperwork on Friday with her partner, Amber Wang, said, “I feel very proud of Taiwan, because we are the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage.”
Huang and Wang were among 20 couples who got married as a group at the district office on Friday morning, followed by a joint garden party outside.
The new law didn’t come without struggle, however. The issue proved extremely divisive, and required involvement of the Constitutional Court and a voter referendum to eventually pass. Now, same-sex couples will enjoy the same legal rights as most opposite-sex couples, including raising children together, inheriting each other’s property, and signing each other’s medical paperwork.
Beyond these practical benefits, for many couples the new law represents their long-overdue acceptance in the broader community. Yang Hsun and her new wife Hsu Pei-chieh made a point of registering in Yang’s conservative home county to make a statement. “It’s a way of giving them an education in marriage equality,” said Hsu. “We’re happy Taiwan can have this day.”
As expected, opponents of same-sex marriage have pledged to cast protest votes in the upcoming parliamentary and presidental elections. Their disaproval, however, isn’t dampening the spirits of same-sex couples, who are relishing this historic moment.