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250,000 March In Taiwan For Marriage Equality

“Same-sex couples also have the right to marriage,” said President Tsai Ing-wen.

Some 250,000 people gathered in Taipei this weekend in support of marriage equality, as Taiwan is primed to be the first country in Asia to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Celebrities, politicians, LGBT activists and allies amassed downtown in front of Taiwan’s Presidential Office for a concert on Saturday, International Human Rights Day. The event took place just a week after nearly 70,000 people marched against equal marriage.

Proponents want the Civil Code updated to remove references to gender in marriage statutes, while conservatives and religious groups back adding new legislation to grant legal rights to gay couples.

Like their Western counterparts, they claim changing the law will “destroy” traditional values.

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has supported LGBT rights without taking a strong stand for either plan: “Same-sex couples also have the right to marriage,” she said in a statement, while still calling for “more discussion but less confrontation.”

A bill to update the Civil Code passed a first hearing last month, but have been embroiled in debate in the Legislative Yuan’s judiciary committee. Any measure would have to be reviewed at a legislative session on December 26, and pass a second and third reading before becoming law.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.