In a landmark first for the Asian continent, the Taiwanese parliament on Friday legalized same-sex marriage after the government survived a last-minute attempt by conservatives to pass a watered-down version.

The lawmakers passed a law allowing same-sex couples to form ‘exclusive permanent unions’ and a second clause which would enable them apply for a marriage registration with government agencies.

The vote is a major victory for the island’s community who have for years, campaigned to have similar or equal marriage rights as heterosexual couples, placing the country at the vanguard of Asia’s burgeoning gay rights movement.

Despite heavy rains near the parliament building in Taipei, the country’s capital, hundreds of gay rights supporters gathered as the legislative debate got under way over the bill which has bitterly divided the island.

Conservatives had in recent months mobilized to rid the law of any reference to marriage by putting forward rival bills which offered something closer to limited same-sex unions. Unfortunately, those bills did not receive enough votes.