The Cabinet plans to ask all local governments to recognize household registrations by same-sex couples before same-sex marriage is fully legalized, even as the Executive Yuan remains undecided on how to legalize such marriages.
Following the Council of Grand Justices’ landmark ruling last week that a ban on same-sex marriage in the Civil Code is unconstitutional, the Executive Yuan has formed an interministerial task force to study how many laws would be affected by the legalization of same-sex marriage and what modifications are required to the legal definition of kinship and inheritance, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said yesterday.
The task force cannot decide how same-sex marriage should be legalized — by amending the Civil Code, by establishing a special section of the Civil Code or by creating a special law — until it conducts further assessments, Chen said.
“I cannot set a timetable [for proposing legislation], but we understand that the Legislative Yuan is not willing to wait and will pressure us,” she said.
“If there are local governments that refuse to comply — which they are legally entitled to do, as household registration is within local governments’ authority — I will ask the Ministry of the Interior to accept household registration for same-sex partners,” she said.
Of the nation’s 22 local governments, 11 recognize household registrations by same-sex couples, including all six special municipalities, and registrations from 2,060 couples, including 1,643 lesbian couples and 417 homosexual couples, Chen said.
Household registration is not legally binding, but allows partners to deal with such practical matters as signing consent for surgery and asking for family care leave.
The legalization of same-sex marriage requires changes to laws defining parent-child relationships and inheritance, Chen said.
The Civil Code recognizes three kinds of legal parent-child relationships — children born to married couples, children born out of wedlock and children adopted by a married couple — but children born to a same-sex couple through assisted reproduction methods do not easily fit into those categories, so legal changes would have to be made, she said.
Although the law also recognizes the rights to inheritance of adopted children, inheritance rights are usually based on the recognition of kinship by blood or marriage and legal changes have to be made to accommodate children of same-sex couples, Chen said.
The task force is to determine how changes should be made in a way that is acceptable to the public, she added.
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