Thu, Aug 02, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Gay couple goes to court in battle for marriage rights

Staff writer, with CNA

A gay man who with his partner filed a court complaint earlier this year to defend their rights to legal marriage has said he will not back down in the case and expressed optimism that the ruling would be in their favor.

“We will fight to the end, because this is our legitimate right,” Nelson Chen (陳敬學) said.

Chen and his partner, Kao Chih-wei (高治瑋), filed a complaint with the Taipei High Administrative Court earlier this year after their efforts to be legally married were turned down by authorities.

They are asking that their marriage be recognized legally.

The couple held a public wedding banquet in 2006, but their application to register as “husband and wife” in August last year was rejected by a district household registration office.

They then took the issue to the Taipei City Government, which turned down their appeal late last year, prompting them to take legal action.

The first court hearing was held in April.

The date of the second hearing has yet to be determined, although Chen guessed it could come within the next month or so.

The couple’s lawyer Liu Chi-wei (劉繼蔚) said yesterday that he believes the law is on the couple’s side.

“There are no clear clauses in Taiwan’s Constitution or in the legal code that say explicitly that same-sex couples are prohibited from being legally married,” Liu said.

He said that the Civil Code, which has been cited by authorities as among the reasons for turning down the couple’s marriage registration, cannot be interpreted as limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Article 972 states that an agreement to marry “shall be made by the male and the female parties in their own concord,” but that is contained in the section on getting engaged rather than marriage, Liu said.

Another clause, Article 980, states that “a man who has not completed his 18th year of age and a woman her 16th may not conclude a marriage,” but the emphasis is on age rather than defining the gender of the people in the union, he said.

Other than those articles and one other article similar to Article 980, the law does not mention gender issues related to marriage, Liu said.

The lawyer added that the “single partner” concept, instead of the concept of an opposite-sex partner, is the core of the “one man, one woman marriage” mentioned in a judicial interpretation.

Chen and Kao are the second male couple to hold a public wedding in Taiwan. The first took place in 1996 between Taiwanese writer Hsu Yu-sheng and his American partner Gary Harriman.

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