Taiwan's top court on Friday (24 March) began hearing a case which could make the Island nation the first place in Asia to allow gay marriage.

A panel of 14 grand justices are hearing the case brought forward by gay activist Chi Chia-wei and the city government of Taipei. It will discuss if a line in Taiwan's civil code that says an agreement to marry should be made between a woman and a man is unconstitutional.

Ahead of the hearing Chi said: "I am cautiously optimistic as the world trend is to recognise same-sex marriage and the grand justices are unlikely to bar it."

Chi had attempted to register his marriage with his partner but was rejected in 2013.

The latest case in the top court comes after Taipei High Administrative court in 2014 made a decision in favour of the government agency which turned Chi and his partner away when they tried to register their civil union.

Taipei city government officials have also lodged a petition to get clarity on the matter as they have been receiving several requests for same sex marriages.

According to AFP, the lawyers for Chi, government officials and other legal experts will take part in the discussion while a ruling is expected in two months. Meanwhile, campaigners with rainbow flags gathered outside the courthouse in Taipei to show support for gay marriages.

Hsieh Kuo-lien, a law professor at the National University of Kaohsiung said: "The constitutional court's decision is legally binding.If its decision is favourable to gay rights activists, it would be effectively legalising same-sex marriage."

This development comes after the first draft of a bill to legalise same-sex marriage was passed in Taiwan's parliament in December.

The debate has divided Taiwanese society, with conservatives arguing that gay marriages will essentially damage family values.

In recent times, both liberals and conservatives took to the streets to express support for their side of the argument.

Taiwan same sex marriage ruling
Veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei (C) speaks to the press with his supporters in front of the Judicial Yuan in Taipei on March 24, 2017. Taiwan's constitutional court began hearing a landmark case on March 24 that could make the island the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images