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Man to seek constitutional interpretation on gay marriage (update)

2014/12/24 21:54:17

Taipei, Dec. 24 (CNA) A Taiwanese man said Wednesday that he plans to seek a constitutional interpretation of a case in which he has been seeking recognition of his same-sex union in Taiwan since the 1980s.

The decision by Chi Chia-wei, who also calls himself Dayway Chief, came two days after a committee in the Legislature began review of a same-sex marriage bill in Taiwan for the first time.

Joining a wave of recent calls for the legalization of same-sex unions in Taiwan, Chi announced his decision at a press conference that was attended by other gay rights activists and his lawyers in front of the Judicial Yuan.

He told CNA that he and his lawyers are likely to file for a constitutional interpretation of the legal status of his marriage next January after they have prepared the relevant documents.

Chi dismissed some of the common arguments against same-sex marriage by saying that gay people have been clinically proven to be just as "normal" as anyone else, and that marriage is a normal thing.

"Why can't normal people be allowed to do normal things?" he said.

Chien Chih-chieh, secretary-general of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, said gay rights group have high expectations of the Judicial Yuan.

"We hope the Justices of the Constitutional Court, as gatekeepers of the Constitution, can stand on the high level of the Constitution and give equal rights back to gay and lesbian couples," Chien said.

The union between Chi and his partner began with a ceremony in Taipei in 1988.

Since then, they have been pursuing several legal channels to have their union recognized in Taiwan as a legal marriage.

In March last year, he and his partner tried to register their marriage at the Wanhua District household registration office in Taipei but their application was turned down.

They then lodged an administrative appeal with the Taipei City Government but that was also rejected.

Chi subsequently filed a complaint with the Taipei High Administrative Court, which ruled in March this year that the Wanhua office had not violated the law when it refused to register the union.

Undeterred, Chi took the case to the Supreme Administrative Court, but his appeal was rejected in September.

Victoria Hsu, a lawyer and chief executive officer of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, called Chi's decision to seek a constitutional interpretation an "important moment in history," as Taiwan's Justices of the Constitutional Court have never issued a direct interpretation on same-sex marriage.

She said she hopes the application for a constitutional interpretation will force the Justices of the Constitutional Court to handle the human rights issue head-on.

She stressed that same-sex marriage is now legal in at least 16 countries and in 35 states in the United States, calling it an international human rights trend.

(By Christie Chen)