Taiwan’s top court has cleared the way for the island to recognize same-sex marriage.

The Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that current laws, which say that marriage is between a man and a woman, violate the constitution.

The panel has given the island’s parliament, known as the Legislative Yuan, two years to amend or enact new laws, which could potentially make Taiwan the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage.

The island has a large gay community and its annual gay pride is the biggest in Asia but the issue of marriage equality has divided Taiwanese society, with thousands turning out in recent months to protest both for and against marriage equality
The decision came in response to two requests for a Constitutional Court ruling on article 972 of Taiwan’s civil code, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman.
One of the requests was filed in 2015 by Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist, who has spent more than half his life fighting for marriage equality in Taiwan, according to the island’s official Central News Agency (CNA).

The other request was filed by the Taipei city government the same year after three same-sex couples lodged an administrative lawsuit against the government after their marriage registrations were rejected, CNA reported.

Draft legislation is already making its way through the country’s parliament but has stalled. Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female president, expressed support for gay marriage before her election in 2016.
“In the face of love, everyone is equal,” she said in a Facebook video during 2015’s gay pride parade.
“I support marriage equality. Every person should be able to look for love freely, and freely seek their own happiness.”
Elsewhere in Asia, the LGBT community has been facing increased persecution. South Korea has been cracking down on gay armed service members, while in Indonesia gay men have been facing more restrictions, with a recent raid on a gay sauna party and two men caned for having homosexual sex in the conservative province of Aceh.
Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage, although a handful of cities and wards have legalized same-sex partnerships. However, LGBT people are not protected from discrimination under Japanese law.
ads space

No Asian nations are on the 23-strong list of countries that have legalized same-sex marriage, according to Pew Research, although it was permitted in New Zealand in 2013.