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Draft gay marriage bill to be further amended: Justice Ministry

2019/02/21 22:30:35

Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) / CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 21 (CNA) The Cabinet's draft bill to legalize same-sex marriage, which does not currently include regulations governing such issues as marriage between Taiwanese and foreign nationals of the same sex, will be subject to further amendments, the Ministry of Justice said Thursday.

The Cabinet approved earlier in the day a draft bill that will serve as the basis for same-sex couples aged 18 and older to marry (though parental consent is required under the age of 20), which is expected to take effect May 24.

While the draft bill covers areas such as inheritance rights, medical rights, adoption of children and monogamy, commentators have asked why it does not address marriage between foreign nationals and Taiwanese of the same sex, or whether gay couples can use assisted reproduction through sperm or oocyte donation.

Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said the draft legislation does not cover all scenarios relating to transnational same-sex marriage.

That is because transnational same-sex marriage touches on the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements which stipulates the formation of a marriage is governed by the national law of each party and is therefore subject to review by the Judicial Yuan, according to Chung Jui-lan (鍾瑞蘭), director-general of the ministry's Department of Legal Affairs.

As to assisted reproduction, Tsai said it is currently illegal for gay couples and the enforcement of the Assisted Reproduction Act falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and so is not covered by the draft bill.

Meanwhile, under the draft bill, gay couples will be allowed to adopt the biological children of their partner.

However, when asked whether they will be able to adopt children adopted by their partner before marriage, Tsai said that situation is not addressed because the special draft bill seeks to guarantee the rights of the biological children of gay couples.

Tsai admitted that the draft bill has not taken all scenarios into consideration, saying its primary goal at the moment is to respond to the constitutional interpretation and the result of the recent referendum.

He added that the possibility of further revisions cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said that the ministry is seeking to amend the new legislation to ensure married gay couples are subject to punishment for adultery as stipulated in Article 239 of the Criminal Code for married couples.

The article states a married person who commits adultery can be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year. But Taiwan currently defines an adulterer as a person who engages in sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex.

(By Yeh Su-ping, Ku Chuan, Liu Shih-yi and Evelyn Kao)
Enditem/AW

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