Shared from the 2017-05-25 Austin American Statesman eEdition

TAIWAN

Same-sex marriage gets boost in Taiwan

If related laws aren’t changed, marriages can be registered.

Picture

Same-sex marriage supporters cheer outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei after Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, making the island the first place in Asia to recognize gay unions. CHIANG YING-YING / AP

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Taiwan’s constitutional court on Wednesday ruled in favor of same-sex marriage and said the legislature should revise the country’s civil code or establish new laws within two years.

The decision sets the stage for Taiwan to possibly become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

The civil code, which does not currently recognize same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang said.

If the related laws are not revised or new laws are not written within two years, same-sex couples can begin registering their marriages with the Taiwan government, Lu said.

According to Lu, the point of the ruling is equal protection of marriage freedom.

“The protection provided by existing Civil Code is insufficient,” he said.

President Tsai Ing-wen late Wednesday called on society to understand, tolerate and respect people having different opinions.

“President Tsai believes that our democracy is mature enough to resolve differences,” Presidential Of›ice secretary-general Joseph Wu said.

“We are glad to see the result. We support marriage equality,” ruling Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Ruan Jhaosyong said.

The Council of Grand Justices made the ruling after it received two requests for a constitutional interpretation on the issue.

One was filed in 2015 by a veteran gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei, whose registration of marriage with his male partner was rejected by the local government and then subsequent court appeals failed.

Theotherrequestwasfiled by Taipei City government in 2015 after three same-sex couples filed an administrative lawsuit against it after their marriage registrations were rejected.

“We hope the legislation to legalize same-sex marriage will be speeded up. That way, rights of same-sex couples will be ensured as soon as possible,” Chien Chih-chieh, the secretary-general of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, said Wednesday.

Late Wednesday, gay rights advocates and LGBT groups gathered in central Taipei, shouting “Marriage Equality! People’s Victory!”

Chi urged people supporting same-sex marriage to forgive and communicate with others against marriage equality.

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