Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - Page 3 News List

MOJ to hire academics to study same-sex marriages

COMPARE, CONTRAST:The ministry has already researched the issue, but only in Western nations and so wants to study Asia as it deliberates legalization

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ)will commission studies on same-sex marriages to help decide if such unions should be legalized and what the best way to do so would be, a ministry official said over the weekend.

Chung Jui-lan (鍾瑞蘭), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of Legal Affairs, said the ministry was looking to enlist academics to study Asian countries’ practices in dealing with same-sex marriages, after having completed similar research on Germany, France and Canada in May.

Chung said the ministry decided to study Asian countries’ attitudes to same-sex marriage after critics of such unions questioned why the ministry had left Asian countries out of its May study, given that they are more similar to Taiwan than Western nations.

The study will also cover topics such as whether to revise the Civil Code if same-sex marriage if legalized or if passing a civil partnership act would be more viable than outright legalization, Chung said.

She described the legalization of same-sex marriage as a “complicated” issue because it would involve altering the Civil Code, as well also laws regarding tax benefits and medical rights.

“It is good for everyone to express their opinions, as it will make the process of drafting any law or act more thorough,” she said.

Chung said a court ruling to be given on Thursday on a gay couple’s appeal to be legally married could also serve as a reference for the ministry.

Nelson Chen (陳敬學) and Kao Chih-wei (高治瑋) filed a complaint with the Taipei High Administrative Court earlier this year after their efforts to be recognized as legally wed were rejected by the authorities.

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.

If the court rules in favor of the pair, they will become the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Taiwan, which is often considered one of the more liberal countries in Asia on homosexual issues.

Local gay rights groups have for years called on the government to legalize same-sex marriages. The government drafted a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in 2003, but it has not been adopted.

The report released by the ministry in May concluded that the Registered Same-Sex Partnership Regime adopted by Germany offers “a better common ground and a compromise solution between the marriage equality groups and those who are opposed to same-sex marriages.”

The system initially gave unequal rights to same-sex registered partners compared with married couples, but has improved the rights of the former through amendments to the law over the years.

The study was a result of a resolution passed by the Cabinet-level Committee of Women’s Rights Promotion in 2010 and by the ministry last year suggesting the ministry add same-sex domestic partnerships to its agenda of issues to be discussed.

After concluding that the legalization of same-sex partnerships was complex, the ministry commissioned academics to study how same-sex unions were handled in Germany, France and Canada.

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