Long-term partners Chou Shu-chi (周書綺) and Wang Shu-yi (王淑儀) yesterday filed a lawsuit with Taipei’s Shilin (士林) District Court asking it to have both of them recognized as the legal guardians of their children, since under Taiwanese law, the women cannot get married so only Chou is afforded parental status through being the kids’ biological mother.
The 33-year-old Chou and the 35-year-old Wang have been a couple since they met in college 15 years ago and own a business together.
Four years ago, the couple decided to have a child and Chou traveled to Canada to undergo assisted reproductive surgery. Although after undergoing a physical exam, Chou was told by her doctors that she only had a 40 percent chance of becoming pregnant, the surgery was a success and she gave birth to twins — a girl and a boy.
“We felt like we had won the lottery,” Chou said.
However, their joy was cut short when they discovered that the law only allows Chou to be registered as the twins’ mother. Wang cannot do so because she is not the biological mother and her and Chou cannot legally wed.
“We’ve applied to the household registration office as the twins’ parents, but were turned down because we are not legally married,” Wang said.
“We then applied to the [Taipei] City Government, hoping to at least be registered as the twins’ adoptive parents, but the city government also rejected our application, saying that we cannot ‘adopt’ children because we are not married,” she added.
“We are the twins’ parents, both of us. The four of us live together as a family and Chou and I take care of the kids together, but legally, I am a stranger in the house; how is that fair?” Wang asked.
Accompanied by lawyers and members of the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy group, Chou and Wang yesterday filed the suit in the hopes that the court will allow Wang to be registered as a stepparent.
The lawsuit asks the court to rule to extend the Civil Code regulations governing the status of stepparents to grant Wang stepmother status, which would then pave the way to her being registered as the twins’ adoptive mother.
“We’ve been together for 15 years and we’ve raised our children for more than three years. We are in a stable relationship and form a very stable, happy family,” Wang said. “All we are seeking is legal recognition of that, so we can be a family not only in real life, but also in the eyes of the law.”