Government urged to hasten cross-national same-sex marriage amendment
Taipei, May 4 (CNA) Several LGBTQ and human right groups called on the government on Wednesday to expedite a proposed law amendment to enable all cross-national same-sex couples to register their marriage in Taiwan.
Although Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, the Ministry of the Interior has for the past two years adopted a directive to prohibit the marriage registration of same-sex couples in which one partner is from a country or jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is illegal.
The directive cites Article 46 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements as its legal basis, which stipulates that the formation of a marriage is governed by the national law of each party's home country.
As a result, Taiwan's government does not allow cross-national same-sex couples with one partner from a country which has not legalized same-sex marriage to get married in Taiwan, nor does it recognize the marriage registration of such a couple in a third country.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Chien Chih-chieh (簡至潔), secretary-general of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), said that in order to address the problems, the Judicial Yuan submitted a proposal to revise the Act to the Cabinet for review in January 2021.
However, 16 months have passed and there has been little progress on the draft amendment in the Cabinet, Chien said, urging the government to understand the obstacle facing some cross-national same-sex couples who wish to get married in Taiwan and speed up the legislative process.
Once the proposed amendment is approved by the Cabinet, it will be sent to the Legislature for review.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International Taiwan Secretary General Chiu I-ling (邱伊翎) commented that the current legislation constituted discrimination against gay people and certain nationalities, and was not in line with the two United Nations' human rights-related covenants adopted by Taiwan in 2009.
She was referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Both covenants contain provisions that guarantee protection to all persons from discrimination of race, sex, political opinion, national or social origin, and birth or other status.
Meanwhile, the groups urged the government to take immediate measures to ensure "the rights of cross-national same-sex couples to family reunion."
Chien, from TAPCPR, said the government should allow a foreign national from a cross-national same-sex couple that was married in a third country to apply for a "dependents resident visa" to come to Taiwan, if their partner is Taiwanese or based in Taiwan with valid residency.
The government should also expand a new measure introduced by the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) on April 12 to include cross-national same-sex couples with one partner from a country which has not legalized same-sex marriage, Chien added.
The measure allows "relatives" of Taiwanese nationals and foreigners with valid Taiwanese residency to apply to enter Taiwan on a visitor visa.
BOCA said the measure was taken in consideration of "the need for and right to family reunions" at a time when the country's strict border control measures continue to ban most foreign arrivals.
To be able to reunite and stay together is what concerns cross-national same-sex couples the most, Chien said, citing TAPCPR's data as saying that at least 138 such couples had not met with one another physically for over two years due to Taiwan's border controls.
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