May 17, 2019 / 2:54 AM / 2 months ago

Taiwan parliament begins discussion of landmark same-sex legislation

TAIPEI, May 17 (Reuters) - Taiwan’s parliament on Friday began discussion of a landmark bill to legalize same-sex marriage, amid a heated debate over marriage equality that has divided the self-ruled island.

Thousands of supporters of same-sex marriage gathered in Taipei, the capital, outside parliament, which was set to vote on a series of bills that could offer same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals.

Friday’s vote will follow a years-long debate over marriage equality. In 2017, the democratic island’s constitutional court declared same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, and set a deadline of May 24 for legalisation.

In passing the bill, Taiwan will take the lead in Asia regarding such unions. Australia also passed legislation to allow same-sex marriage in 2017, sparking rainbow celebrations.

Neighbouring China and Hong Kong do not recognise such unions. (Reporting by Yimou Lee, I-Hwa Cheng and Taipei newsroom; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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