Taiwan Expands Adoption Rights for Same-sex Couples

Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside the parliament in Taipei on May 17, 2019. Photo by Sam YEH / AFP

Taipei, Taiwan -- Taiwan's parliament passed an amendment on Tuesday allowing gay couples to jointly adopt children, a move hailed by activists as "another big step forward" for marriage equality.

Taiwan is at the vanguard of Asia's burgeoning LGBTQ rights movement, becoming the first place in the region to legalise marriage equality in 2019.

But same-sex couples still faced restrictions, such as being unable to jointly adopt children. While individuals in Taiwan were allowed to adopt regardless of sexual orientation, those in same-sex marriages could not both be legal parents unless the child was one partner's biological offspring.

On Tuesday -- the eve of the fourth anniversary of Taiwan's marriage equality law -- parliament passed the amendment removing those restrictions, with lawmaker Fan Yun hailing the cross-party support for the bill.

The amendment "not only ensures the protection of children's rights but also meets their best interest", said Fan, who was draped in a rainbow flag.

"In the future, spouses and parents, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, can have full legal protection."

The amendment comes after a family court in southern Kaohsiung City last year ruled in favour of a married gay man seeking to share parenthood of his husband's adoptive child -- the first verdict of its kind.

"After four years of hard work, today the parliament finally passed the (bill for) adoption without blood relationship by same-sex couples," the advocacy group Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said in a statement.

The group also hailed Taiwan's recent recognition of transnational same-sex marriage -- a move made in January by then-premier Su Tseng-chang to lift restrictions for international couples.

Previously foreigners were not allowed to wed their Taiwanese partners if they came from territories banning same-sex marriage -- which is much of Asia.

But one of Su's last acts in office was to recognise such unions -- including for couples from Hong Kong and Macau, though not mainland China, which is governed under a different set of regulations in Taiwan.

"Following the full recognition of transnational same-sex marriage in January, Taiwan has taken another big step towards marriage equality," the alliance said of the adoption amendment.

Taiwan is home to a thriving LGBTQ community -- a record 200,000 people attended a pride march in Taipei in 2019 to celebrate the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

That law came about after Taiwan's top court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Over the next two years, at least 7,000 same-sex couples tied the knot according to 2021 data from the Interior Ministry.

The alliance said Tuesday it would continue to push for more rights for same-sex couples, including recognition of Taiwanese-Chinese marriages.

© Agence France-Presse

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