Fri, Feb 22, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet unveils marriage equality bill

‘TREAT WITH RESPECT’:The proposed act would guarantee same-sex couples equal freedom to wed and allow them to raise children who are borne of either spouse

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka, left, is accompanied by Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang as she speaks at a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The Executive Yuan yesterday unveiled the “enforcement act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748” which, if passed, would allow two people of the same sex who are at least 18 years old to be legally married.

The bill is to be delivered to the Legislative Yuan before Friday next week, with a final version expected to go into effect on May 24 in compliance with Constitutional Interpretation No. 748 passed down by the Council of Grand Justices on May 24, 2017, which set a two-year deadline for the passage of legal amendments or a new law to guarantee the constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

The act would allow two people of the same sex to enter into an “intimate and exclusive” permanent bond, and would guarantee them equal freedom to be legally united, the bill states.

The two members of a same-sex marriage are obligated to live together, jointly shoulder day-to-day expenses and take care of each other in the event of illness or injury, it states.

Those younger than 20 who wish to wed would be required to obtain approval from their legal representatives, it states.

A certificate bearing the signatures of at least two witnesses is required for a same-sex union to be valid, and a same-sex couple should register their marriage at a household registration office, it adds.

As with heterosexual couples, the two members of a same-sex couple may not be legally united if they are direct relatives or collateral relatives within four degrees, it says, adding that polygamy and adultery are not allowed.

Regarding children, the bill states that a same-sex couple would be legally allowed to raise children if they were borne by one of its members.

Asked by reporters whether same-sex couples would be allowed to raise children borne by a surrogate, Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said that the matter falls within the jurisdiction of the Assisted Reproduction Act (人工生殖法), which is overseen by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

As for divorce, the bill says that a same-sex couple may terminate a marriage if the decision is consensual, while child custody and alimony payments would be adjudicated by a court of law according to regulations copied from the Civil Code.

Asked by reporters whether same-sex unions involving members of other nationalities would require the government of those nations to also recognize the union, Tsai said that the issue requires further discussion.

As for the unusual title of the act, Tsai said that the government tried to be as “neutral” as possible with the name, which was decided during discussions between Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers on Wednesday night.

The name is meant to put arguments to rest and honor the constitutional interpretation, Su added.

Drawing an analogy between discrimination against LGBT people with that against black people in the US, Su said that African-Americans in the past were not even allowed to vote, but are now treated much more respectfully.

Homophobia stems from a misunderstanding that sexual preference is acquired after birth, but science has proven that homosexuality is congenital and noncommunicable, and therefore requires no “curing,” Su said.

All Taiwanese live in the same nation, on the same land, and should all be treated with respect and equality, so that Taiwan could become an even friendlier and more respectful place, he said.

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