Taiwan to make landmark gay marriage ruling

The council made the ruling after it received two requests for a constitutional interpretation on the issue.

Taiwan could become the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage on Wednesday when a court makes a landmark ruling on whether to allow same-sex unions.

The constitutional court said Taiwan's current Civil Code, which stipulates an agreement to marry can only be made between a man and a woman, "violated" the constitution's guarantees of freedom of marriage and people's equality.

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's first female president, expressed support for gay marriage before her election in 2016.

But the debate has prompted a backlash, with mass protests by conservatives in recent months.

"The provisions of Chapter 2 on Marriage of Part IV on Family of the Civil Code do not allow two persons of the same sex to create a permanent union of intimate and exclusive nature for the committed goal of managing a life together", the decision read.

"Also, the review of the so-called marriage equality bill has yet to go through the third and final reading", said Yu Hsin-yi, secretary general of the Greater Taipei Stability Power Alliance, which opposes gay marriage.

"I hope the law can pass by the end of the year", said Bubu Chen, who had an unofficial marriage ceremony with his partner in 2013.

Outside Taipei's main judicial headquarters, angry anti-gay marriage protesters beat drums shouting "unfair justice" and "sinners", calling for the head of the judiciary to step down.

Those groups opposing same-sex unions called for the Control Yuan, the island's top government watchdog, to investigate whether the Council of Grand Justices had neglected its duty in making the ruling. Only two judges dissented.

"In the face of love, everyone is equal", she said in a Facebook video during 2015's gay pride parade.

The case originates from a lawsuit brought by Chi Chia-wei, a long-time gay rights activist in Taiwan.

The second party is the Taipei city government, which is itself being sued after having to reject marriage applications from same-sex couples under existing laws.

  • Zachary Reyes