Despite recent gains for the LGBT community in the US and Europe, same-sex marriage remains banned throughout Asia. But that could soon change. Three bills in the works in Taiwan— under the leadership of its first female head of state, who expressed support for same-sex marriage just last month—would make Taiwan the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage if passed, reports AP. One of the bills is listed for parliamentary review and could become law within months. "It's a big step forward for the history of human rights," says a ruling Democratic Progressive Party MP, who's sponsoring the bill up for review. "If Taiwan can get this passed … it will give other Asian countries a model."
Same-sex marriage appears less controversial in Taiwan as in some countries in the region partly because Buddhist teachings and traditional Chinese religions don’t take a strong stance on the issue, explains AP. A 2012 survey found 55% of Taiwanese supported same-sex marriage, with 37% opposed. The approval rate spikes to 80% among those 20 to 29, says an LGBT advocacy group. The push for laws in Taiwan gained momentum this year after the death of a professor, reports the Telegraph. He is believed to have killed himself upon the death of his gay partner because he was denied legal claim to their property. Gay couples raising kids without an official union feel a similar stress. "Now, if something happens to the child, the other partner is nothing but a stranger," says one mother of 5-month-old twins. (Read more Taiwan stories.)