Taiwan unveils Asia’s first draft law on same-sex marriage

FILE PHOTO: A rainbow flag is seen in front of Taiwan's flag during a rally to support the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum, in Taipei, Taiwan November 18, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

Taiwan on Thursday proposed a draft law to allow same-sex marriage in Asia’s first such bill, but the legislation was criticized by rights activists and conservative groups amid a heated debate over marriage equality.

Voters opposed marriage equality in a series of referendums late last year, defining marriage as between a man and a woman and asking for a special law to be enacted for same-sex unions.

The draft law unveiled by cabinet on Thursday would give same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals, but marriage in civil law would remain defined as between a man and woman.

Premier Su Tseng-chang said the bill respected the referendum results, although activists had said a separate law for gay marriage was discriminatory.

“Controversies are expected about the proposal, but I really hope our homosexual friends can wait a bit longer,” Su said in a statement.

“This might fall short of expectations, but after all it’s a start,” he said.

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