Date
22 September 2017
Supporters hug each other during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry. Photo: Reuters
Supporters hug each other during a rally after Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry. Photo: Reuters

Taiwan set to become first in Asia to allow same-sex marriage

A landmark ruling by Taiwan’s top court could see the island become the first in Asia to allow same-sex marriage.

The decision has left many local people furious, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

On Wednesday, the Council of Grand Justices ruled that the current civil law, which says an agreement to marry can only be made between a man and a woman, violates the freedom of marriage and equality under the constitution.

It said disallowing two people of the same sex to marry for their inability to reproduce has no apparent rational basis.

The court told the Department of Justice and parliament, the Legislative Yuan, to revise the law within two years to allow same-sex couples to register their union.

The court’s interpretation of the constitution was made after requests by veteran gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei in 2015 and later by the Taipei city government.

Chi tried to register his same-sex marriage in 2013 but was rejected by Taipei’s Wanhua District household registration office. A court appeal ended in failure.

This time, 12 of the top court’s 15 grand justices ruled in favor of his request, a boost for groups that have been calling on the government to legalize same-sex marriage.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who supports same-sex marriage, said the decision is not about winning or losing but brings a moment when people should treat others as their brothers and sisters.

She said the island’s mature democracy is able to resolve any disagreement.

Also, Tsai said the law must protect everyone’s freedom of marriage and equality and that the administration should present its proposal regarding how to revise the civil law for approval as soon as possible.

She added that society must treat people with different opinions and attitudes with understanding, inclusiveness and respect.

Meanwhile, the issue that has caused serious division in society is by no means over, according to reports.

Calling the decision a farce, Chang Shou-yi, secretary general of the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan, said the group will consider demanding interpretations of the constitution on bigamy and incest now that same-sex marriage is allowed.

The convenor of the Protection of Family Value Students Organization slammed the grand justices for trying to destroy the foundation that Taiwan’s economy is built on.

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TL/AC/RA

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