Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Regulations on diplomatic immunity to be reviewed

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

The government will review regulations that deny the spouses of gay diplomats the right to diplomatic immunity granted to heterosexual couples, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson James Chang (章計平) said yesterday.

“We will collect information regarding practices adopted in different countries and give overall consideration to our current practice. For now, we have to stick to existing regulations,” Chang said.

The Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday reported that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) had called on the ministry to extend diplomatic immunity enjoyed by heterosexual couples to the partners of homosexual diplomats.

“We have noted the report and recognize that human rights are universal values that should be vigorously promoted. However, some countries have legalized same-sex marriages and others have not. We will continue to study how the issue is handled in different countries,” he said.

Under regulations governing the issuance of identification cards to diplomats and their dependents in Taiwan, heterosexual partners need not apply for an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC).

Diplomats and their dependents who hold diplomatic certificates are also exempt from taxation on salary and enjoy courteous reception on the basis of bilateral agreement between Taiwan and their home countries.

Since monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is the only legally permitted type of marriage under the Civil Code, the regulations regarding diplomatic immunity are not applied to diplomats who are homosexual, said Jose Maria Liu (劉德立), -director-general of the Department of Protocol.

Years ago, the government started to allow spouses of gay diplomats to stay in the country with an ARC, the same treatment granted to cohabitants of diplomats, who otherwise could only stay in the country on a tourist visa.

Liu, who assumed the position about three years ago, said his office had not received any complaints about the matter from foreign diplomats during the past three years.

“We would have revised the regulations if it was an issue. However, as time goes by, we will consider the need to change the rules,” Liu said.

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