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Taiwan high court hears gay marriage case

TaipeiA panel of judges at Taiwan's high court have started hearing a landmark case that could make the island the first place in Asia to introduce same-sex marriage. The panel of 14 justices are hearing arguments and will debate whether a line in Taiwan's civil code, which states that marriage is between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

The case has been brought by a gay activist as well as municipal authorities from the capital, Taipei. Veteran gay activist Chi Chia-wei, whose attempt at registering marriage with his partner in 2013 was rejected, had petitioned for the case to be heard.

This hearing could be a decisive turning point in Taiwan's decades-long debate on whether to legalise same-sex marriage. Should the judges rule that Taiwan's current ban is unconstitutional, then parliament will be forced to amend the laws accordingly..

The ruling is expected to come out in two months' time.

At the same time Taiwan's parliament has also been debating whether to pass laws that would allow same-sex marriage. In December 2016 Taiwan's parliament approved the first draft of a bill to legalise gay marriage, with a second reading due in months. However the push for same-sex marriage has split society and prompted a conservative backlash, with protests in recent months.

In a way some politicians hope that the court will rule for same-sex wedding so that they will be able to avoid the issue and blame the courts for ‘making them amend the law’.