Thu, Jan 24, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Couple drop court appeal over gay marriage ban

AFP, TAIPEI

A gay Taiwanese couple yesterday said they had decided to drop a bid to register their marriage, citing death threats they have received as one of the reasons behind their decision.

Nelson Chen (陳敬學) and his partner, Kao Chih-wei (高治瑋), filed an appeal with an administrative court against a government agency that turned them down when they tried to register their marriage in 2011.

Chen yesterday said he had “lost his faith in the judiciary” after the court failed to either make a decision or to pass the case on to the Council of Grand Justices.

“We want to maintain our dignity and this is our only choice. We may be small and unable to change the judicial system, but at least we can show courage by being ourselves,” Chen said.

He said that death threats sent to him and his parents via Facebook had been among the factors prompting him to abandon the bid.

Chen also said that “the time is not ripe” for a favorable ruling even if the Council of Grand Justices were to hear his case, which had said that a civil code clause stipulating marriage as being only between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

“We are ready, but we don’t think society is ready yet ... We should fight against discrimination and pursue equal treatment as society still discriminates against gay couples,” he said.

Rights groups voiced support for Chen, saying that he has been under a lot of pressure, but some expressed regret at the decision.

“I think they are compromising with the system by withdrawing the case. It’s regrettable, they should have continued the fight,” said social activist Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳), who has been assisting the couple.

Others played down the impact of the decision to give up the case, which had been described as a potential milestone that could pave the way for Taiwan to become the first society in Asia to legalize same-sex marriages.

“We believe that granting gay marriage rights is the current trend and more couples will come forward to fight for their rights,” Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy secretary-general Shawn Wu (吳紹文) said.

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