In a first for Asia, Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, punctuating a years-long campaign by advocates for gay rights in one of the continent's most liberal democracies, per the AP. In its majority opinion, the court said a provision in the current civil code barring same-sex marriages stood in violation of two articles of the constitution safeguarding human dignity and equality under the law. Authorities must now either enact or amend relevant laws within two years; failing that, same-sex couples could have their marriages recognized by submitting a written document, the court said.
The ruling was greeted with rapturous applause outside the legislature not far from the court in the center of the capital, Taipei, where hundreds had gathered with rainbow flags and noisemakers emblazoned with slogans in favor of gay marriage. A bill to enforce the ruling is already working its way through the legislature, where both the ruling and major opposition parties support legalization of same-sex marriage. Surveys show a majority of the public is also in favor, as is President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's first female leader. One big question is how far lawmakers will go, notes the BBC. They could simply amend current laws to include same-sex couples, or they could create a new law that recognizes same-sex couples but gives them fewer legal protections than heterosexual couples. (Read more Taiwan stories.)