By Eric Cheung
Taipei, Taiwan (CNN) — Taiwan’s legislature passed a bill Tuesday that granted same-sex couples the right to jointly adopt a child neither of them are related to, clearing one of the final hurdles in achieving full marriage equality.
Taiwan in 2019 became the first jurisdiction in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage but it stopped short of granting fully equal rights of adoption to same-sex couples.
Previously, only heterosexual couples and single people were allowed to adopt children to whom they are not biologically related – creating a situation where if same-sex couples wanted to adopt a child, only one of them could register as the child’s legal parent, even if they both shared the burden of raising them.
“I am very excited that we granted joint adoption rights to same-sex couples today,” said Fan Yun, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party who was among those that initiated the legal change.
“Legally, we have finally returned same-sex couples to their children,” she added. “Parental love is the same, and only through joint adoption can we protect the rights and interests of each other by law.”
The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, an advocate for LGBT rights on the island, also called the decision a big step toward achieving full marriage equality.
“Today’s success shows that the consensus in Taiwan is to protect the human rights of LGBTI peoples and promote gender equality,” the alliance said in a statement.
Before the legal change Tuesday, some same-sex couples had spent years challenging the discrimination in Taiwanese courts.
In a landmark ruling last January, a male couple from Kaohsiung City managed to successfully challenge the ban – when the court ruled that allowing joint adoption was in the best interest of their child.
But the court also dismissed other similar cases and the law that limited their civil liberties remained on the statute books until it was amended Tuesday.
The legal change has come amid growing awareness in Taiwan about what it still takes to achieve full marriage equality – even though same-sex marriage had been legalized four years ago.
In January, the Taiwanese government issued a new directive that allowed a Taiwanese person to marry a foreign spouse of the same sex, even if their partner is from a jurisdiction that does not recognize gay marriage.
That directive, however, does not include same-sex partners from mainland China.
The alliance said some of the remaining hurdles for LGBT couples included equality for cross-strait marriages and access to assisted reproductive technologies.
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