Same-Sex Couples in Taiwan to File Lawsuits for Joint Custody

Same-Sex Couples in Taiwan to File Lawsuits for Joint Custody
Photo Credit:RT/ 達志影像

What you need to know

Children of same-sex couples in Taiwan only have one legal parent.

When Chieh Li (潔麗, an alias) was recovering from her cesarean section, her partner Rabbit (an alias) was unable to enter the intensive care unit where their newborn twins were being monitored because she was not legally recognized as their guardian.

This is just one barrier faced by the nearly 100 same-sex couples who have children in Taiwan, the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy said at a press conference yesterday.

Chieh Li and her partner, along with six other same-sex couples, plan to file a lawsuit in December to claim joint custody over their children.

Under the current Civil Code, only the birth mother is the legal parent of children born to same-sex couples, and adopted children can only be registered under one parent.

“Legally, my partner is no more than a stranger to her children,” wrote Chen Xi (晨曦, an alias) in a statement. She and her partner are also filing a lawsuit.

“My partner does not have the rights to register our daughter in the national registry or for healthcare,” wrote Chen Xi. “When I tried to buy health insurance for our daughter with my partner’s credit card, I was subjected to so many unnecessary questions.”

Same-sex couples may also face difficulties applying for childcare subsidies, the advocacy group said. Children of same-sex couples are also unable to legally inherit their parents’ property.

Taiwan is set to become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, but the legislation is still facing opposition from religious groups. In response, Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) has said the ministry is drafting a same-sex partnership law, which will be sent to the Legislative Yuan by next February, local United Daily News reports.

However, LGBT rights advocates have expressed disappointment in the possibility of separate laws for same-sex marriage and families. Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy spokesperson Tseng Yen-jung (曾嬿融) said at the press conference yesterday that having separate laws for same-sex marriage is still a form of discrimination that separates LGBT couples from the rest of the society. The only way to achieve true marriage equality is by amending the Civil Code, said Tseng.

The Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association also released a statement on Nov. 20, explaining the need for amendments to the Civil Code.

“Creating a separate legislation to govern same-sex marriage does not solve discrimination, and does not adhere to Article 7 of the Constitution that guarantees that all citizens are equal before the law regardless of sex, religion, race, class or party affiliation,” the association writes.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White