Same-Sex Couple Marriage Registration Rejected, Tsai's Commitment Questioned

Same-Sex Couple Marriage Registration Rejected, Tsai's Commitment Questioned
Photo Credit: Cobris/達志影像

What you need to know

Why should a married couple face a situation where the marital status of one spouse is reversed to ‘unmarried’ when she returns to her own country?

Pressure is building on Taiwan's new president to deliver on election promises she made to the LGBT community.

The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) says a Taiwanese national, known as Lu, tried to register her same-sex marriage in Taipei on Aug. 15, but was rejected.

The reason given by the Taipei City Zhongzhang District Household Registration Office was that it: “violated public order and morality to the extent that jeopardizes domestic private law and stability of daily life.”

According to the TAPCPR, Lu was born in Taiwan and is married in South Africa, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2006. After Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) stated her support for same-sex marriage during the presidential campaign earlier this year, Lu decided to return to Taiwan hoping her partner could reside permanently in Taiwan as her spouse. After their application was declined, Lu said she is now preparing to leave the country again.

Lu has written to President Tsai to express her disappointment.

“Race, nationality or gender has never been included in the criteria of a person’s ability, capability or legitimacy to love. So love is simple when politics is absent,” Lu writes. “You know who you love and you know whether you wish to spend the rest of your life with that specific person. When that wish needs to be made reality, the institution of marriage becomes the vehicle to transport you to that destination.”

She asks the government to explain “why a factually and legally married couple faces a situation where the marital status of one spouse is forcefully reversed to ‘unmarried’ when she returns to her own country?”

The letter ends with Lu asking, “Dear President Tsai, am I single or married?”

According to TAPCPR, Lu has received a reply saying authorities will deal with her case. The organization says the rejection of Lu’s application was “ruthless and insulting.”

Some netizens have criticized Tsai’s stated support for marriage equality, suggesting it was only to win the presidential election. Others say legalizing same-sex marriage is a long process and that people should not blame Tsai.

Starting in 2015, all of Taiwan’s six special municipalities began recognizing household registrations for same-sex relationships, but this is not legally binding and does not constitute the recognition of a marriage between two individuals of the same sex.

The Ministry of Justice recently announced that a draft law for a Same-Sex Partnership Act rather than a Marriage Equality Act is to be submitted to the Executive Yuan by September 2017.

▶︎ See also: "OP-ED: The Tsai Administration Needs to Stop Stalling on Marriage Equality"

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White