Seven facts as Taiwan becomes Asia's first to allow same-sex marriage

Friday, 17 May 2019 08:46 GMT

Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate after Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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Same-sex marriage will become legal in Taiwan on May 24

By Beh Lih Yi

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 (Openly) - Taiwan became the first place in Asia on Friday to legalise same-sex marriage, after a years-long struggle for marriage equality that left the self-ruled island deeply divided.

It came just days before a deadline to legalise same-sex marriage imposed by the island's top court in 2017 in a ruling that said current law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional.

The bill, which offers same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals, will take effect on May 24 after President Tsai Ing-wen signs it into law. 

Gay unions are not recognised by Hong Kong and neighbouring China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be brought back into the fold by force if necessary.

Here are seven facts about same-sex marriage around the world:

1. Same-sex marriage is legal in 26 U.N. member states: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, United States.

2. In some of these countries, such as Mexico and Britain, marriage is only open to same-sex couples in some regions. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom in which same-sex marriage is not allowed.

3. The first country to legalise same-sex marriage was the Netherlands in 2001. The latest was Austria, where the law allowing gay unions took effect on January 1 this year.

4. Same-sex second parents can legally adopt in 30 countries, while 28 allow joint adoption.

5. A push for same-sex marriage is slow elsewhere in Asia. Thailand has drafted a civil partnership bill that would legally recognise same-sex couples as civil partners, but LGBT+ activists protest that the bill does not grant marriage equality.

6. In Africa, where homosexuality is a crime in many countries and can lead to imprisonment or the death penalty, South Africa alone has granted the same access to gay couples. Same-sex marriage legislation came into force there in 2006.

7. In a rare move, Bermuda's governor last year approved a bill to reverse the right of gay couples to marry in the British overseas territory. The top court struck down the ban in November but the ruling can still be appealed.

SOURCES: International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), Pew Research Center

(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Hugo Greenhalgh. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

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