Activists to tackle legal obstacle to transnational gay marriage

10/01/2019 05:49 PM
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Taipei, Oct. 1 (CNA) A group of gay rights activists said Tuesday they will seek the courts' interpretation of an article in one of Taiwan's laws that does not permit same-sex marriage if at least one partner is from a country where such unions are not legal.

At a press conference, Chen Ming-yen (陳明彥), managing supervisor of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), said the law is contrary to the country's Constitution, which stipulates equal rights for everyone, regardless of their race, gender or religious affiliation.

On May 17, Taiwan made history as the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, when the Legislature passed a bill that gave gay couples the right to marry.

The bill, called the Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748, took effect May 24 when it was signed into law by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), but it did not allow for marriage between same-sex couples if one or both partners are from a country where gay marriage is not legal.

Based on Article 46 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters involving Foreign Elements, local governments have not been allowing transnational same-sex marriages unless both partners are from a country where such unions are legal, Chen said at the press conference.

Article 46 of the Act states that "the formation of a marriage is governed by the national laws of each party."

However, Article 8 of the same law says that if the law of a foreign country "leads to a violation of public order or of boni mores (good morals) in the Republic of China (Taiwan)," the law of the foreign state does not have to be applied in Taiwan, another member of the TAPCPR Victoria Hsu (許秀雯) said.

Under Article 8, Hsu said, local governments can allow registration of same-sex marriages, even if one or both partners are from a country where such unions are not legal.

The press conference was held shortly after two partners, one from Taiwan and the other from Macao, were not allowed to register their marriage at the Taipei City Zhongzheng District Office on grounds that same-sex marriage is not legal in Macao.

Members of the TAPCPR, who had accompanied the couple to the district registration office, said their organization will first appeal the case to Taipei City Government before taking it to the Taipei District Court for an interpretation of Article 8 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters.

If Taipei City decides to allow transnational same-sex marriages, regardless of the partners' country of origin, it will set a precedent for other local governments, the TAPCPR said.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Joseph Yeh)

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