A landmark judgment reflects how quickly attitudes can change – but usually thanks to campaigners who persist against the odds

The crowd in Taipei on Wednesday was not huge; a few hundred people. But the joy and relief on their faces radiated around the world. The constitutional court had just ruled in favour of allowing same-sex marriage, in Asia’s first such judgment. The legislature now has two years to amend the civil code, which defines marriage as occurring solely between a man and woman, or pass laws addressing the issue. If it does not, same sex-couples will be able to wed anyway.

The news was all the more welcome given its backdrop. Just last week, in Asia alone, a South Korean army captain was sentenced for having sex with other servicemen following what campaigners describe as a witch hunt by the military, while in Aceh, Indonesia, two men were caned publicly for consensual gay sex. It is a matter of weeks since reports emerged of a horrifying anti-gay crackdown in Chechnya, involving well over a hundred men, some of whom are believed to have been killed.

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