Taiwan yesterday became the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage after lawmakers passed the Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Constitutional Interpretation No. 748 (司法院釋字第748號解釋施行法).
Under the act, same-sex couples would be able to become legally married from Friday next week to meet a two-year deadline stipulated in Constitutional Interpretation No. 748, which was handed down by the Council of Grand Justices on May 24, 2017.
The Legislative Yuan yesterday held an article-by-article vote after cross-caucus talks on Tuesday on three versions of the legislation were inconclusive.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
The vote went according to a motion tendered yesterday by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus, which has the legislative majority, to amend the Executive Yuan’s version of the bill proposed in February.
The two other bills — submitted by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) on behalf of the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance and DPP Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) on behalf of HTC Corp (宏達電) chairwoman Cher Wang’s (王雪紅) Faith, Hope and Love Foundation — were not put to a vote, as the DPP’s version was the first to be voted on and secured a majority.
Article 1 of the Cabinet’s version reads: “This act was formulated to enable two persons of the same sex to form a permanent bond that is intimate and exclusive for the purpose of managing a life together, thereby ensuring that the right to marriage is equal and protected.”
However, the DPP caucus amended the article to say: “This act was formulated to carry out Constitutional Interpretation No. 748.”
It also amended Article 2 of the Cabinet’s version, which reads: “Same-sex marriage refers to two persons of the same sex forming a permanent bond that is intimate and exclusive for the purpose of managing a life together,” removing the definition of “same-sex marriage” and rewording it to say that two people of the same sex may form a permanent bond that is intimate and exclusive for the purpose of managing a life together.
The DPP caucus added the word “marriage” to Article 4, which stipulates that after signing a certificate, which must also bear the signatures of two witnesses, two people of the same sex may register “their marriage” at a household registration office.
The changes were proposed in the hope of settling a dispute over certain phrasing in the Cabinet’s version, such as “same-sex marriage,” Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said on Thursday following a meeting between Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and DPP lawmakers.
People must be at least 18 years old to get married or, in the case of minors, obtain the consent of their legal guardian, the act says.
People may not marry their direct or collateral relatives within four degrees of consanguinity, unless they are collateral relatives through marriage who are not within three degrees of kinship, it says.
If a member of a same-sex couple is the biological parent of their child, their spouse may adopt the child, in which case adoption rules stipulated in the Civil Code would apply, the act says.
In the case of a divorce, the rules stipulated in the Civil Code regarding the division of assets, compensation and determination of child custody would apply, it says.
Several DPP legislators who have taken a conservative stance on same-sex marriage were absent from the legislative session yesterday, including Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書), Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) and Hung Chun-yi (洪宗熠).
Meanwhile, KMT lawmakers who have openly supported same-sex marriage voted in favor of some of the key DPP amendments.
KMT legislators Lin Wei-chou (林為洲), Jason Hsu (許毓仁), Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) and Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) voted for the DPP’s version of Article 2.
The DPP’s version of Article 4 received the backing of Chiang, Jason Hsu, Hsu Shu-hua, Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀), Ko Chih-en (柯志恩), Arthur Chen (陳宜民) and Lin Yi-hua (林奕華).
Loud cheering broke out from a crowd, estimated at more than 40,000 people, awaiting the result of the voting outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei when the legislation passed its third reading at 3:28pm.
In Constitutional Interpretation No. 748, the Council of Grand Justices declared the lack of language in the Civil Code to guarantee the right of same-sex couples to wed unconstitutional and required that a law or amendment be introduced to legalize same-sex marriage within two years.
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