TAIPEI - Nearly 10,000 people took to the streets on Thursday (Nov 17) as Taiwan moves closer to becoming the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.
Pro and anti-gay marriage protesters gathered outside the Legislative Yuan from 7am to make their voices heard as a parliamentary committee hunkered down inside to review two amendments to the Civil Code that seek to legalise same-sex marriage and allow married gay couples to adopt children.
The Bill passed through the first of three hearings last week.
Those who opposed it claimed that it was a "hasty legislative process" and called for a referendum on the issue.
On Thursday, anti-gay marriage protesters wearing white were seen holding signs with slogans like "Marriage, Family, Let the People decide" and “Stand forward for the next generation’s happiness”.
"We don't want the institution of marriage destroyed by a minority of people who think they can do what they want. It is not lawful and not how our society is founded on," said teacher Josie Chen who was at the protest.
The protesters watched the proceedings of the parliamentary review outside the Legislative Yuan building. Gay marriage supporters carrying rainbow flags also gathered to make their voices heard.
In a sign of a deeply divisive society on the issue, tensions boiled over during the parliamentary hearing when a scuffle broke out between legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is pro-gay rights, and the opposition Kuomintang.
This is the second time that the same-sex marriage bill is put up for review by Taiwan's parliament after a failed attempt in 2013 when Christian groups petitioned against it.
A draft of the amended Bill is expected to reach the Parliament by next month while a vote will be taken by February next year.
If the Bill clears this time round, Taiwan would join Canada, Colombia, Ireland, Brazil, the United States and 16 other countries that have legalised same-sex marriage over the past 15 years.
About 80 per cent of Taiwanese between the ages of 20 and 29 support same-sex marriage, Associated Press quoted Ms Tseng Yen-jung, spokesman for Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy, as saying, citing local university studies.