Taiwan Taipei Pride
Taiwan Pride via Flickr

Taiwan will become the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage on 24 May.

Despite a public referendum voting against same-sex marriage in Taiwan, the country’s government has overruled the decision and followed the initial court ruling to legalise same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage will automatically become legal in the country on 24 May, and applications to get married in the capital city of Taipei opened up yesterday (23 April).

The Department of Civil Affairs confirmed that it was taking online and phone bookings, and the Home Affairs Department confirmed that it was equipped handle same-sex marriages by the court deadline.

Despite there being an automatic date for the legalisation, the Taiwanese government have confirmed plans to legislate for the ruling before the automatic deadline. There are currently two equal marriage bills in parliament, with one giving more rights than the other.

Last December, the government estimated that 4,000 same-sex couples had already applied to get married.

LGBTQ groups are celebrating the decision, with Equal Marriage Taiwan collecting well-wishes for same-sex newlyweds, and The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights planning a wedding banquet outside the Presidential Office for the day after same-sex marriage is legalised.

Benson Lee from Equal Marriage Taiwan said: “We are looking forward to seeing the first same-sex marriages in Asia. And show to the world that Taiwan proudly has our own democratic constitution and diversity values in Asia.”

And although Taiwan will become the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, ten same-sex couples in Japan are suing the government for not recognising their relationship.

The Japan Times reports that the couples are seeking some form of compensation and that their claims will be filed in courts around the country, like in Tokyo or Nagoya.

One of the lawyers for the couples, Shinya Maezono said: “We want our call to be widespread so that the freedom to marry will be recognised for everyone.”