Taiwan on track to be 1st in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage

The Republic of China (Taiwan) is on track to become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage after its Constitutional Court ruled May 24 that provisions of the Civil Code forbidding such an act violate the people's freedom of marriage and rights to equality as guaranteed by the Constitution.

As they presently stand, the provisions of Chapter 2 on Marriage of Part 4 on Family of the Civil Code do not allow two persons of the same sex to create a permanent union of intimate and exclusive nature for the committed purpose of managing a life together, the court found in Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748.

Relevant laws shall be amended or enacted in accordance with the ruling within two years, the court added, stating that if this does not take place, two persons of the same sex who intend to create the said permanent union shall be allowed to have their marriage registration effectuated by authorities responsible for household registration.

In a post on her official Facebook page, President Tsai Ing-wen said the ruling is not a judgment concerning different opinions on the issue. Irrespective of one's position on same-sex marriage, at this moment all members of society should treat one another as brothers and sisters, she added.

This stance was echoed in a statement by Joseph Wu, secretary-general of the Office of the President. The ruling is binding upon individuals and government agencies at all levels throughout the country, he said, adding that the president is confident the mechanisms of democracy in Taiwan are mature enough to resolve dissent.

Following the ruling, Premier Lin Chuan instructed the Ministries of Justice and the Interior to propose a bill for fast-tracked legislative review representing the greater public's consensus on the issue and imposing minimal impact on society.

Legislative Yuan President Su Jia-chyuan also issued a statement stating he expects all parties to canvass public input and complete the necessary legislative process through rational negotiations based on equality, inclusion and respect.

According to the ruling, allowing same-sex marriage will not affect the application of the Marriage Chapter to opposite-sex marriage, nor will it alter the social order established upon opposite-sex marriage. Disallowing two persons of the same sex to marry, for the sake of safeguarding basic ethical orders, is a different treatment incompatible with the spirit and meaning of the right to equality as protected by Article 7 of the Constitution

The ruling is the court's consolidated response to respective petitions filed by Chi Chia-wei, who began championing same-sex marriage in 1986, and Taipei City Government. Of the 15 grand justices, 12 signed the ruling, one signed with a partial dissenting opinion, one dissented and one recused himself.

Major international media outlets such as Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Telegraph and The Straits Times have provided extensive coverage of the development. Many of the stories praised the ruling and said it positioned Taiwan as a leader in Asia on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender marriage equality.

Source: Taiwan Today