Sat, Oct 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Award-winning LGBT rights advocate calls for action on same-sex marriage

By Wu Po-wei and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Veteran gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei holds up a rainbow flag in an undated photograph.

Photo: Courtesy of the General Association of Chinese Culture

Veteran gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei (祁家威), who was yesterday announced as the winner of the Presidential Culture Award in the social reform category, said that he wished he could exchange the award for the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples in the nation to register their marriages immediately.

Chi — who applied for what would on May 24 result in Constitutional Interpretation No. 748, which has been hailed as a milestone of LGBT rights in Taiwan — said he wished the government would expedite efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Taiwanese should not be kept waiting two more years,” he said.

The constitutional interpretation says that parts of the Civil Code that render same-sex marriages illegal are unconstitutional and that amendments legalizing same-sex marriage should be written into law within two years. Should the amendments not be passed within the allotted time, same-sex couples may use extant Civil Code regulations to register their marital status at household registration offices.

Chi said that he was overjoyed to hear the announcement of the interpretation, which has been viewed as a significant milestone not only by Taiwanese LGBT rights movements, but also those across Asia.

However, he said he was saddened to hear on Thursday that the Taipei High Administrative Court rejected a case filed by lesbian couple Fang Min (方敏) and Lin Yu-li (林于立) to request that household registration offices should accept their marriage registration.

The court said it could not grant the couple’s request, as “the legal framework for same-sex marriage has not been promulgated into law” and the two-year deadline stipulated by the constitutional interpretation has not lapsed.

While the interpretation stipulated that amendments should be made before May 24, 2019, it also declared that limitations on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, so courts should approve such requests instead of rejecting them, Chi said.

He said that his efforts to legalize same-sex marriage are not just for himself, but for many others who, like him, are not afforded legal protection to join hands with their loved ones, adding that while receiving the award would be a great honor, it is not fair that he alone is to enjoy the limelight.

If possible, he would exchange the award for the right of same-sex couples to register their marriage immediately, Chi said.

He called on the government to expedite the handling of the issue, saying that the nation’s LGBT community has been waiting a long time and should not be kept waiting any longer.

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