What you need to know
The marriage of Guzifer Leong and Ting Tse-yan is only the end of the beginning in the fight for equitable transnational marriages in Taiwan.
On August 13, Macao citizen Guzifer Leong and his Taiwanese partner Ting Tse-yan tied the knot at Taipei’s Zhongzheng District Household Office. This breakthrough was a product of the couple’s years long advocacy on both social acceptance for same sex transnational couples and legal battle in the courts.
Taiwan has been lauded as the first and only country in Asia to date to allow same sex marriage after Act for Implementation of J.Y. Interpretation No. 748 came into effect in May 2019. However, the current act limits transnational same sex marriages to citizens of the nearly 30 countries where same sex marriage is legal. This leaves out the majority of Taiwanese spouses from China and Southeast Asia, not to mention other countries where many Taiwanese live, from Japan, Korea, to Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in Latin America and the Pacific.
Represented by Victoria Hsu, lawyer and co-founder of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TACPR), the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled in the couple’s favor in allowing them to register their marriage in Taiwan. As Macao’s Civil Code states that marriage is based on the habitual residence, this allowed the High Court to pave the way for marriages in accordance with Article 46 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements which grants marriage rights based on the national law of each party.
TACPR video promoting amending the current guidance to allow for more transnational same sex marriages.
Hsu said that although the couple’s win is considered an ad-hoc case, it proves that the current same sex marriage guidance issued by the Ministry of Interior when same sex marriage came into effect in 2019 violates the constitution. She is confident that as similar cases are struck down by the courts, the Ministry of Interior will eventually revise the guidance. The guidance is what all household registration offices currently abide to in handling same sex marriages. Hsu has also filed a request with the Control Yuan, Taiwan’s executive branch top watchdog, to investigate the legality of the guidance.
Apart from the right to marry transnational spouses who are citizens of countries that have yet to legalize same sex marriage, Hsu is currently fighting multiple cases from establishing legal residence rights to adoption rights for same sex couples. She believes that even though Taiwan became the bright spot for same sex couples in the entire region, there is still much room for improvement. She believes that her continued advocacy will bring about true marriage equality for which Taiwan can shine even stronger.
Leong and Ting have both long advocated as a committed couple for equality. They have overcome struggles from family acceptance to receiving hate for their advocacy on issues that may have at times been out of the mainstream. Leong says, “I am of course overjoyed being able to finally marry. However, becoming an exception does not bring true joy, especially with hundreds of other transnational same sex couples still waiting in the cold.” He mentioned that he and his partner will continue to work hard to ensure that transnational same sex marriages become a near soon reality.
Leong’s advocacy does not stop with fighting for marriage equality. He is a vocal advocate for other issues including mental health, abolishing the death penalty, reminding the world that U.S. support for Taiwan is bipartisan regardless of which party is in office, Hong Kong democracy and many other progressive causes he is passionate about. He is also an organizer of Kaohsiung LGBT Pride and is a steering member in launching World Pride Taiwan 2025. This is all aside from Shin Juice, the Kaohsiung bakery Leong and his partner run as their day job.
Though the precise timing of when Leong and Tse-yan’s win will effect the full implementation of transnational same sex marriage in Taiwan is unclear, their marriage is a signifcant milestone in the couple and Hsu’s fight for genuine marriage quality.
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Editor: Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)
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