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Taiwan just legalized same-sex marriage, a historic first for Asia

Taiwan just passed Asia’s first law legalizing marriage for same-sex couples.

The groundwork for the landmark decision was laid back in 2017, when the island’s Constitutional Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage violated Taiwan’s constitution. It set a deadline of May 24 for lawmakers to update the laws to reflect the ruling. The legislature considered three separate bills, the BBC reports, and it approved the most progressive one. Now Taiwan is the proud owner of a new class of marriage that confers full legal rights on same-sex couples, including in taxes, insurance, and child custody. It also gives same-sex couples limited adoption rights.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. While the 2017 court ruling showed that prohibiting same-sex marriage violated Taiwan’s constitution, several referendums in Taiwan revealed that a majority of Taiwanese voters wanted to keep the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. While drafting the new law, the legislature worked to balance the two sides, which they accomplished by leaving the traditional marriage law in place, while creating a new category for same-sex couples.

Progressive lawmakers were able to defeat a push by conservative lawmakers to establish “same-sex unions” or “same-sex family relationships” and instead define same-sex unions as good old-fashioned marriages.

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