A panel of 14 judges in Taiwan has ruled that current laws preventing same sex unions deny LGBTQ people their right to equality, and are therefore unconstitutional. While a landmark decision, it’s unclear if it will result in the legalization of gay marriage.
The BBC reports that a movement for marriage equality in Taiwan—which would make it the first place in Asia to do so—has gained momentum since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016. Tsai Ing-wen is openly supportive of gay marriage. The ruling from the Constitutional Court Republic of China will now be sent to the parliament, or Legislative Yuan, who will be tasked with amending marriage laws.
However, it’s uncertain what direction these amendments will take. The desired outcome among LGBT advocates is that same sex marriage will simply be recognized under the existing laws, but it is feared that parliament will pass new laws that treat gay marriages as civil unions, with limited rights. Legislators were given a two-year deadline by the constitutional court to vote through their decision, or the existing marriage laws will automatically include gay couples.
Though Taiwan is relatively liberal and hosts one of the biggest gay pride parades in the region, the decision to consider marriage equality was met with a backlash and protests in November. Conservative groups pushed for the decision to be made by referendum rather than judges on a court panel. They have promised to lobby parliament throughout the legislative procedure.