BEIJING - Taiwan's giant step towards allowing same-sex marriage has reverberated across Asia, but activists warn the fight for equality isn't over in a region where gay sex remains illegal in some countries.
Challenges to an Asia-wide embrace of same-sex unions were highlighted by this week's caning of two Indonesian men as punishment for gay sex and a South Korean military court's jailing of a soldier for having intercourse with another man.
In mainland China, two men lost a court battle to get married last year.
But activists are hopeful that the push for marriage rights will be reinvigorated by Taiwan's constitutional court decision, which paves the way for the island to become the first place in Asia to allow same-sex couples to tie the knot.
The court ruled Wednesday that laws preventing same-sex unions violated the constitution's guarantees of freedom of marriage and gave the government two years to implement the decision.
"We're very happy," said Vuong Kha Phong, a rights assistant at iSEE advocacy group in Vietnam. "This is a historic victory for the LGBT groups in Asia."
The first domino?
Gay marriage is currently legal in only around 20 countries around the world, 13 of which are in Europe. New Zealand also allows same-sex couples to legally marry.
Taiwan is seen as one of the most progressive societies in Asia when it comes to gay rights.
"While I think it is still a long way to the equality dominos falling all over Asia, I think a few East Asian countries, such as Japan and Vietnam, may be more ready to consider equality legislation," Ray Chan, Hong Kong's first openly gay lawmaker, told AFP.
"I can foresee many couples in Hong Kong will try to get married in Taiwan. When they return home, they will press the government and even the private sector for recognising them because the current laws, policies, and rules are blatantly discriminatory."
In Vietnam, which is seen as socially progressive on LGBT issues and where a vibrant gay scene flourishes online and in some big cities, hopes for marriage reform have stalled.
But iSEE's Phong said the Taiwan ruling "will give us momentum to mobilise the community to take action - to do something so that gay marriage can be considered when lawmakers discuss changing the marriage law in 2020."
Gay activists in China expressed optimism that their country's cultural connections with Taiwan could help their efforts to change the law on same-sex nuptials.