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Gay man vows to 'fight to the end' in marriage court case

2012/08/01 17:05:38

Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) A gay man who with his partner filed a court complaint earlier this year to defend their "equal rights" to legal marriage has said he will not back down in the case and expressed optimism that the ruling would be in their favor.

"We will fight to the end because this is our legitimate right," Nelson Chen told CNA recently.

Chen and his partner Kao Chih-wei filed a complaint with the Taipei High Administrative Court earlier this year after their efforts to be legally married were turned down by authorities and are asking that their marriage be recognized legally.

The couple held a public wedding banquet in 2006, but their application to register as "husband and wife" last August was rejected by a district household registration office.

They then took the issue to the Taipei municipal government, which turned down their appeal late last year, prompting them to take legal action.

The first court hearing was held in April. The date of the second hearing has yet to be determined though Chen guessed it could come within the next month or so.

The couple's lawyer Liu Chi-wei said Wednesday he believes the law is on the couple's side.

"There are no clear clauses in Taiwan's Constitution or in the legal code that say explicitly that same-sex couples are prohibited from being legally married," Liu said.

He said that Taiwan's Civil Code, which has been cited by authorities as among the reasons for turning down the couple's marriage registration, cannot be interpreted as limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Article 972 states that an agreement to marry "shall be made by the male and the female parties in their own concord," but that is written in the section on getting engaged rather than marriage, Liu said.

Another clause, Article 980, states that "a man who has not completed his 18th year of age and a woman her 16th may not conclude a marriage," but the emphasis is on age rather than defining the gender of the people in the union, he argued.

Other than those articles and one other article similar to Article 980, the law does not mention gender issues related to marriage, Liu said.

The lawyer also argued that the "single partner" concept, instead of the concept of opposite-sex partner, is the core of the "one man, one woman marriage" mentioned in a judicial interpretation.

Chen and Kao are the second male gay couple to hold a public wedding in Taiwan. The first one took place in 1996 between Taiwanese writer Hsu Yu-Sheng and his American partner Gary Harriman.

If the court rules in their favor, they will become the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Taiwan.

(By Christie Chen)