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)