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Ministry to commission further study on same-sex marriages

2012/12/15 22:08:44

Taipei, Dec. 15 (CNA) The Ministry of Justice will commission further studies on same-sex marriages to better understand if such unions should be legalized in Taiwan and if so, the best way to do so, a ministry official said.

Chung Jui-lan, deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of Legal Affairs, told CNA recently that the ministry is seeking scholars to study Asian countries' practice in dealing with the issue of same-sex marriages, after having completed such research on Germany, France and Canada in May this year.

Chung said the ministry decided to study Asian countries, which have a more similar national condition as Taiwan, after critics of such marriages questioned why the ministry had left out Asian countries in its May study.

The study will also cover topics such as whether a revision to Taiwan’s Civil Code or the introduction of a partnership act would be more viable, if same-sex marriages is to be allowed in the country, Chung said.

She described the legalization of same-sex marriages as a "complicated" issue that could involve not only changes to the Civil Code, but also to laws regarding tax benefits and medical decision-making.

"It is good for everyone to express their opinion as much as possible, as it will make the law-making process more complete," she added.

Chung said a scheduled court ruling on Dec. 20 on a Taiwanese gay couple's marriage appeal could also serve as a reference for the ministry.

Nelson Chen and Kao Chih-wei filed a complaint with the Taipei High Administrative Court earlier this year after their efforts to be legally married were rejected by the authorities.

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

If the court rules in favor of them, they will become the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Taiwan, which is often considered one of the more liberal countries in Asia on homosexual issues.

Gay rights groups in Taiwan have for years called on the Taiwanese government to legalize same-sex marriages. The government drafted a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in 2003, but it has not been adopted.

The report released by the Ministry of Justice in May concluded that the Registered Same-Sex Partnership Regime adopted by Germany offers "a better common ground and a compromise solution between the marriage equality groups and those who are opposed to same-sex marriages."

The regime initially gave unequal rights to same-sex registered partners compared to married couples, but has improved the rights of the former through law amendments over the years.

The study was a result of a resolution made by the Cabinet-level Committee of Women's Rights Promotion in 2010 and by the Ministry of Justice in 2011, which suggested that the ministry add domestic partnerships among its issues to be discussed.

After coming to the conclusion that the topic of same-sex partnerships has a broad scope, the ministry commissioned scholars to study same-sex unions in Germany, France and Canada.

(By Christie Chen)