LGBTQ RIGHTS/Taiwanese-Japanese couple wins cross-national gay marriage lawsuit

07/21/2022 04:22 PM
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Photo courtesy of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights
Photo courtesy of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights

Taipei, July 21 (CNA) The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday ruled that a Taiwanese national and his Japanese partner should not have been prevented from registering their same-sex marriage with a local household registration office.

In its ruling, the court voided a decision by the Daan Household Registration Office in Taipei to reject the marriage registration filed by Lu Yin-jen and Eizaburo Ariyoshi on May 7, 2021, saying that the application should have been accepted.

Three years after Taiwan legalized same-sex unions, Lu and Ariyoshi will now be free to marry, provided the household registration office does not file an appeal within 20 days of receiving the verdict.

"We have been together for seven years, and now we can finally become, legitimately, husband and husband," Lu, 34, told a press conference following a trial that lasted less than five minutes.

Ariyoshi, 42, told CNA that he felt "really, really happy and relieved" about the result, saying that he and Lu had held a wedding ceremony shortly after Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in May 2019.

Lu and Ariyoshi decided to take their case to court in December 2021 after their marriage application was rejected by two different household registration offices on the grounds that Ministry of the Interior (MOI) rules ban same-sex unions where one partner is from a country or region where gay marriage is illegal.

Despite the Taipei High Administrative Court ruling in favor of three couples involving partners from Malaysia, Macao, and Singapore since March 2021, the MOI, which governs matrimonial affairs, insists it is legally bound to continue rejecting the registration of such marriages under Article 46 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements, which stipulates that the formation of a marriage is governed by the national law of each party's home country.

The MOI's rules have led to at least 467 cross-national same-sex couples -- including those who have already had their marriage registered in a third country -- being prevented from officially tying the knot in Taiwan, according to the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), which provided pro bono support to Lu and Ariyoshi.

TAPCPR Secretary-General Chien Chih-chieh (簡至潔) described the continued rejection of certain cross-national same-sex marriages as "illegal."

Chien added that as this was the fourth time that the Taipei High Administrative Court had ruled in favor of such couples, it showed that legal amendments argued for by the government were unnecessary.

Given that a draft amendment sent by the Judicial Yuan in January 2021 has yet to be approved by the Cabinet, Chien called on the government to greenlight all cross-national same-sex unions immediately by issuing another directive or coming up with other measures.

Cabinet spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told CNA in May that the discussions had been held several times over the past year but that more assessment and communication were needed before the draft amendment could be sent to the Legislature.

At the same time, Chien said TAPCPR would continue supporting and helping cross-national same-sex couples to sue the government in order to register their marriages.

Meanwhile, TAPCPR lawyer Victoria Hsu (許秀雯) urged the Daan Household Registration Office to not lodge an appeal against Thursday's ruling, describing it as "wasting judicial resources."

Hsu added that the government should act in accordance with the Constitution, which ensures freedom of marriage and equal rights for all.

In a press statement issued on Thursday, the MOI said it respected the court's ruling as well as the household registration office's right to appeal the case.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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