Nicola Smith / Twitter
Taiwan’s LGBT community is celebrating after the country becomes the first in Asia to start legalising same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday, Taiwan’s constitutional court, the Council of Grand Justices, said in a landmark ruling that the government has two years to change the law to enact marriage equality.
The 14 panel court ruled that previsions of the civil code that bar same-sex couples from marrying “are in violation of the people’s freedom” and “people’s right to equality” as enshrined in the constitution.
The judges stated that “permanent unions of intimate and exclusive nature are equally essential to homosexuals and heterosexuals, given the importance of the freedom of marriage to the sound development of personality and safeguarding of human dignity.”
The court further said that if the law is not changed in two years, same-sex couples must be allowed to register their marriages with the authorities.
Veteran LGBT rights activist Chia-Wei Chi took the matter to the court two years ago after his attempts to legally register his relationship with another man were rejected.
The judges noted that they made the ruling in part because he had fruitlessly lobbied for marriage equality for more than three decades.
“We are all excited about the result. It’s a success we have been looking for for many years,” Chi told Sky.
Hundreds of people who had gathered outside the court and the Taiwan legislature to support marriage equality erupted in celebration after the ruling. Amidst a sea of rainbow flags some cried with emotion at the happy news.
Opponents of same-sex marriage warned that the ruling would “not only create a serious moral problem but would also encourage social degeneration”.
Taiwan is regarded as one of the most progressive states in the region when it comes to LGBT rights. Homosexuality is legal and discrimination against gays and lesbians is outlawed in the areas of employment and education. It also hosts the largest Pride parade in Asia.