Taiwan court approves landmark same-sex adoption, but questions remain

01/05/2022 01:40 PM
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Taipei, Jan. 5 (CNA) A family court in Taiwan has approved an adoption appeal from a partner in a same-sex marriage, allowing him to become an adoptive father of a child originally adopted by his partner before they were married because it was in the best interests of the child.

The case is the first in Taiwan in which both partners in a same-sex marriage have been legally allowed to adopt a child to which neither are biologically related.

The ruling, which was decided on Dec. 25 and made public Tuesday, meant that the couple, Wang Chen-wei (王振圍) and Chen Chun-ju (陳俊儒), will be able to register Chen's adoption of the child, nicknamed "Joujou," at their local household registration office next week.

"Finally, the issue of Joujou's parental rights has come to an end," Wang wrote on Facebook.

But while the case represented a breakthrough for the couple, who have fought for Chen to be declared an adoptive father along with Wang for more than two years, it does not offer a broader precedent, as Wang noted in his reaction.

"We will continue to fight. The key is having the law revised," he wrote. "If our family wants to adopt another child, will we have to go through the same process again and gamble on which judicial affairs officer we get? Or will the law have been amended so it won't be so hard for everybody?"

Wang was referring to a lack of clarity on the issue provided in Taiwanese law and how a judge or a judicial affairs officer (who issued the ruling in this case) has wide latitude for interpretation.

Under Article 20 of Taiwan's same-sex marriage law (officially known as the Act for Implementation of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748), if a partner in a same-sex union "adopts the genetic child of the other party," civil law provisions on adoption will apply.

The law, however, makes no mention of what happens if the original party's child was an adopted rather than biological child, leaving couples in Wang and Chen's situation in limbo.

In the Wang and Chen case, the Kaohsiung Juvenile and Family Court argued that Article 20 in the same-sex marriage law does not explicitly "prohibit the adoption of adopted children," and that it would be "inappropriate to give a negative or discriminatory interpretation of the provision."

It decided, therefore, that the primary consideration in the case should be the best interests of the child, and that civil law provisions on adoption should apply.

In handing down its ruling, the court cited the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was enshrined into law in Taiwan in 2014, and its provision that a child should not be discriminated against because of his or her parents' status.

Yet other courts have been less willing to go beyond the letter of the law in other similar cases.

The Taiwan Equality Campaign, a gay rights group that helped Wang and Chen along with two other couples seek adoption rights under similar circumstances, said Tuesday that the two other couples had their request for adoption rejected because the law did not specifically allow it.

It said those couples will appeal the rulings, but the group's ultimate goal is to get a constitutional interpretation on the issue - the same tactic that led to the creation of the same-sex marriage law - and a revision of existing laws to provide greater clarity on adoption rights.

(By Luke Sabatier and Lee Hsin-yin)

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