Thu, Jun 15, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Same-sex marriage age to be set at 18

SOCIAL STANDARDS:Executive Yuan official Chen Mei-ling said homosexuals would not be able to marry close relatives, despite such unions not being able to have kids

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Executive Yuan yesterday said that its proposal to legalize same-sex marriage would set the legal age for such unions at 18 and engagement at 17, while prohibiting those within the sixth degree of consanguinity from getting married.

The Cabinet held a second ad hoc meeting to establish the goals that it is to work toward in the legislative process to legalize same-sex unions.

After reviewing the chapter in the Civil Code governing marriage, the Executive Yuan said that homosexual couples would have to be at least 18 to get married and at least 17 to become engaged, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) told a news conference in Taipei.

The Civil Code stipulates that heterosexual couples must be at least 18 to be legally united and at least 16 to be engaged.

As with heterosexual couples, homosexual couples would have to sign a legal document, have two witnesses bear testimony to their marriage and have their marital status registered at a household registration office before their marriage becomes effective, Chen said.

Same-sex couples younger than 20 who want to get married must obtain the approval of their legal guardians, or the marriage could be voided should their legal representatives file an objection, she said.

The Council of Grand Justices last month said that the Civil Code was unconstitutional for not allowing same-sex unions, violating their constitutional right to freedom and equality, Chen said.

The ruling granted homosexual couples the freedom to get married, she said, adding that yesterday’s meeting was aimed at ensuring they would have equality in marriage.

As with heterosexuals, same-sex couples would not be allowed to marry a relative within the sixth degree of consanguinity, according to the Executive Yuan’s draft proposal, meaning that they would not be able to marry their second cousin or a closer relatives.

The prohibitions are because social expectations discourage close relatives from getting married, even though same-sex couples cannot produce children, she said.

The Executive Yuan would base its proposal on the conclusions reached yesterday, regardless of the legislature deciding to amend the Civil Code or pass a special act governing homosexual marriage, Chen said.

Chen said that the proposed rule requiring same-sex couples younger than 20 to obtain the permission of their legal guardians before they can get married is to protect minors.

Same-sex couples younger than 20 would not have their marriages invalidated if their parents do not file a claim, she said.

However, the public has been clamoring for the legal age for marriage to be lowered to 18 to bring it in line with some European nations, which is a scenario that would likely occur if the Civil Code is further amended, she said.

Chen said that the Cabinet would recommend that the legal age at which heterosexual couples can be engaged be changed to 17 so that the rules would be consistent.

The Executive Yuan is to hold another meeting next week to lay out principles on the distribution of marital assets and liability, residence and how names would be affected in same-sex unions, she said.

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