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Taiwan's Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes First Legislative Hearing

Taiwan is getting closer and closer to becoming the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

During the country’s legislative meeting on Monday, various versions of an amendment to the Civil Code were reviewed by its parliament article by article, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Chinese National Party legislator Jason Hsu told the press the amendment will go through two more readings, which will likely happen by mid-2017, should future party caucus negotiations turn out to be favorable.

Yu Mei-nu, a lawmaker from the Democratic Progressive Party who chaired and concluded the legislative meeting, told the media outlet that finalized versions of the amendment will soon be sent for caucus negotiations.

Among the items on the agenda is Article 972, which specifically adds a paragraph stating: “An agreement to marry between people of the same-sex shall be made by two parties involved,” according to Pink News. The current text reads: “An agreement to marry shall be made by the male and the female parties themselves.”

The swift actions of Taiwan’s lawmakers are an optimistic sign that progress could be made in other Asian nations, too. Just last month, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Taipei to celebrate the country’s 14th annual Pride parade in hopes the island nation would spearhead a wave of change across the continent.

However, Taiwan’s marriage equality movement is not without opposition. Opinion polls have shown that, of its 23 million citizens, 46% of Taiwanese are in favor of legalizing gay marriage while 45% are against the change, reports ABC.

Nevertheless, local activists are still hopeful about their country’s progress and believe that, should the vote become a reality, it will encourage regional neighbors to follow in Taiwan’s footsteps.

While some Buddhist and Taoist groups have voiced their disapproval of the movement, it’s the local Christian population that has been most vocal in their opposition to the bill. Catholic priest Otfried Chan, the secretary of the Chinese Regional Bishops Conference in Taiwan, shared with ABC that he was against the government making such a big decision so hastily.

"From time immemorial a human being is born by the union between a man and a woman," he told the news outlet. "Whether you call it marriage or not, that's the natural law…it's better to just disrupt the process [debate], just stop it, suspend it.”

Religious protesters against the bill crowded outside the debate venue in white shirts with signs reading "Marriage and Family; People decide", reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Some passionate participants even attempted to get inside the building’s courtyard and were held back by police.

[Photo via Mashable]

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