The Cabinet yesterday said that six more city or county governments have agreed to recognize household registrations by same-sex couples, with only five local governments not yet amending their policies, adding same-sex couples living in areas where the registration service is not available can register in other places.
Hsinchu, as well as Miaoli, Nantou, Pingtung, Kinmen and Lienchiang counties are to start offering household registration services for same-sex partnerships, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) said.
The service is still not available in Keelung, as well as Hualien, Taitung, Yunlin and Penghu counties, but residents in those areas can register a same-sex partnership in other cities and counties, Chen said.
The registration data of a same-sex couple are only accessible by the local government with which they register their partnership, but measures are to be taken to ensure that the data can be accessed by all local governments and the central government to protect same-sex couples’ rights, Chen said.
Following the Council of Grand Justices’ landmark ruling on May 24 that a ban on same-sex marriage under the Civil Code is unconstitutional, and with measures to be taken to legalize same-sex union within two years, the Ministry of the Interior asked all local governments to recognize household registrations by same-sex couples, she said.
However, before same-sex marriage is legalized, the Cabinet has asked government agencies to relax restrictions on same-sex couples to entitle them to rights accorded to married couples, such as signing medical consent forms, asking for family care leave and visiting imprisoned partners.
There are 498 laws and regulations concerning rights and obligations derived from marriage and kinship, and a decision was made to delay the revision of those laws until same-sex marriage is legalized, Chen said.
However, the Cabinet would not decide on how to legalize such marriages — by amending the Civil Code, by establishing a special section of the Civil Code or by creating a special law — at this stage, Chen said.
Asked if the Cabinet would legalize same-sex marriage with a simple term change — such as replacing “husband and wife” with “both parties” in laws concerning marriage and kinship — Chen said a simple change of terms is “not what opposing sides [of the same-sex marriage issue] want,” because it would not “highlight different qualities of different marriage systems.”
“We hope to keep the heterosexual marriage system unchanged and add the same-sex marriage system,” she said.
“There have been concerns whether heterosexual marriage would disappear with our adjustments and whether same-sex and heterosexual marriage would be conjoined [into a single system]. That will not be the case. Same-sex and heterosexual marriage will coexist,” she said.
The Cabinet is next week to discuss how changes should be made to the Civil Code, including the minimum marriage age and marital prohibitions, Chen said.
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