Positive Signs for Same-Sex Marriage in Taiwan with Support from Top Judges

Positive Signs for Same-Sex Marriage in Taiwan with Support from Top Judges
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

What you need to know

This could be good news for LGBT rights in Taiwan.

Same-sex marriage activists in Taiwan are upbeat after three of five nominees for Taiwan’s constitutional court confirmed their support for marriage equality.

In response to questions from legislators yesterday, Grand Justice nominee Chan San-lin (詹森林) said he supports marriage equality and vowed to defend sexual orientation for every person, the Chinese-language Liberty Times reports.

Chan is one of five nominees for the Council of Grand Justice currently under review. He is one of three nominees to have confirmed support for same-sex marriage, joining Huang Juei-min (黃瑞明) and Hsu Chih-hsiung (許志雄). In June 2015, the four nominees at the time, who have since been appointed, did not support same-sex marriage.

President of Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights Victoria Hsu (許秀雯) says she believes it is possible that the remaining two nominees could also be in favor for marriage equality, potentially paving the way for improved rights for the LGBT community in Taiwan.

“The Grand Justices are in charge of constitutional interpretations, which could help us a lot to fight for same-sex couples whose rights are not protected,” Hsu told The News Lens International by telephone today.

Hsu says the Grand Justices in 2015 mostly opposed same-sex marriage. Last year, the alliance applied to the court for a constitutional interpretation on a case related to same-sex marriage, but the process has been “very slow.”

“We hope the new Grand Justices and the Legislative Yuan can pick up the pace to help the LGBT community in future,” Hsu says.

Asked by New Power Party Legislator Kawlo Iyun Pacidal (高潞‧以用) how the current laws should be reformed to guarantee marriage equality, Chan said it is the legislature’s responsibility to ensure marriage equality by passing or amending laws. He believes the Civil Code is outdated and that the legal definition of “marriage” should be redefined.

“In the Civil Code a legal marriage is based on different genders,” Chan said. “That was the traditional definition of marriage when Civil Code was created. Time has changed and people’s way of thinking has advanced, and I believe it is time for same-sex couples to be able to become married officially.”

Chan said he has no preference between new laws or amending the Civil Code but believes the latter could send a stronger message and benefit the LGBT community more, state-run CNA reports.

Hsu holds similar views, adding that amending the Civil Code is easier and a lot faster than passing a new law.

Amending the Civil Code could “give the LGBT community equal rights,” Hsu told TNLI. “It can make sure all people are treated equally and have the same rights.”

Discussing the possibility of legalized same-sex unions during the interpellation session at the legislature yesterday, People First Party Legislator Chou Chen Hsiu-hsia (周陳秀霞) asked Chan "who would be the husband, and who would be the wife."

Chan said the titles “husband” and “wife” derived from the traditional definition of marriage in the Civil Code and that the question “should not matter” as it would not be a concern for the couple. People could also be referred to as 當事人 (“participants") in marriage.

Taiwan was anticipated to become one of the first Asian countries to achieve marriage equality when the new administration took office in May. Many people have been disappointed, however, as the government has yet to tackle the issue. The administration appears to have de-prioritized the matter, leading some to conclude the new government had simply exploited the issue for electoral gain. A recent death brought attention to the government’s inaction.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole


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