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  • Supporters of same-sex marriage at a rally during a parliament vote on three draft bills of a same-sex marriage law, outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan May 17, 2019.

    Supporters of same-sex marriage at a rally during a parliament vote on three draft bills of a same-sex marriage law, outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan May 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 May 2019

However, the new law still has restrictions not faced by heterosexual couples, regarding child adoption for instance.

Taiwan's first official same-sex weddings will take place later on Friday in a landmark moment for LGBT rights in Asia, a week after lawmakers took the historic decision to legalise gay marriage.

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In Taipei, more than 150 same-sex couples are scheduled to register on Friday, according to local authorities. The city hall will co-host an outdoor wedding party near the famous Taipei 101 skyscraper, with local and foreign dignitaries expected to attend.

Among those tying the knot will be social worker Huang Mei-yu, who will be marrying her partner You Ya-ting.

Legal recognition of their love, Huang said, was a crucial step and might help others accept the relationship.

"Now that same-sex marriage is legally recognized, I think my parents might finally feel that it's real and stop trying to talk me into getting married (to a man)," she said.

Taiwan made history last week when it became the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage, sparking jubilation among huge crowds of gay rights supporters on the streets of Taipei.

Same-sex marriage has also caused deep divisions on an island that remains staunchly conservative, especially outside of the cities and among older generations.

For veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei, Friday's weddings are the culmination of a three-decade-long fight trying to persuade successive governments to change the law.

It was Chi who eventually petitioned Taiwan's Constitutional Court leading to a 2017 judgment that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional.

Facing an imminent court deadline, parliament finally passed a bill last Friday allowing same-sex couples to form "exclusive permanent unions" and another clause that would let them apply for a "marriage registration" with government agencies.

Conservatives put forward rival bills that offered something closer to limited same-sex unions but those measures failed.

However, the new law still has restrictions not faced by heterosexual couples.

Same-sex couples can currently only adopt their partners' biological children and can only wed foreigners from countries where gay marriage is also recognized.

Conservative and religious groups were buoyed by a series of referendum wins in November, in which voters comprehensively rejected defining marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman.

Opponents have vowed to punish President Tsai Ing-wen and the lawmakers who supported the gay marriage law at January's elections when Taiwanese will elect both a new president and a new parliament.

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