5 months after the the draft bill on marriage equality passed the first hurdle in Taiwan’s legislature, Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices handed down a ruling today, determining that it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriage. The decision paves the way for Taiwan to become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

In the ruling, the panel of 14 grand justices concluded that the current stipulation in the civil code violates Taiwan’s constitutional guarantees of equal rights. Additionally, the panel also recognized the legislature’s inability to complete the legislative process on bills regarding same-sex marriage, after petitioner of the case, Chi Chia-Wei, tirelessly appealed to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the government for the right to marry his same-sex partner over the last three decades.

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The grand justices advised the legislature to complete the legislative process on same-sex marriage bills in the next two years, with the legislature holding the power to decide whether to amend the civil code or enact a separate law for same-sex marriage.

If the legislature failed to complete the relevant legislative process after 2 years, any individual with the intention to marry their same-sex partner will be allowed to have their marriage registration effectuated at local household registration offices.

Pro marriage equality rights groups promised to closely monitor the legislative process, and urged legislators to follow the constitutional court’s ruling, instead of trying to confuse the general public by enacting a separate law for same-sex marriage.

With today’s ruling, Taiwan successfully cements its reputation as the “LGBTQ Capital in Asia” and a beacon of progressive values, after several countries in the region witnessed increased persecutions for the LGBTQ community.

William Yang

William is a freelance writer and photographer based in Taiwan, with a passion for human rights and storytelling. He holds a Master of Journalism degree from Temple University, and has extensive experiences interning at global NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Mercy Corps.