The Taipei High Administrative Court yesterday handed a setback to lesbian couple Jennifer Lu (呂欣潔) and Chen Ling (陳凌) when it decided the court cannot order local government offices to register their same-sex marriage.
They were the third lesbian couple to see their requests denied by the court since October last year, just nine days after the court rejected a similar request by Liang Tzung-huei (梁宗慧) and Chu Pei-shuan (朱珮諠).
In yesterday’s ruling, the court said relevant amendments legalizing same-sex marriage have not yet cleared the legislature and therefore local authorities had no legal basis to approve the plaintiffs’ marriage application.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
The case can still be appealed, according to the court statement provided by presiding judge Huang Chiu-hung (黃秋鴻).
The litigation originated in August 2014, when The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights as part of a campaign encouraged members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to register for marriage at Taipei’s Zhongzheng District Household Registration Office.
The couples’ requests to marry were rejected by staff at the household registration office, who cited the Civil Code, which stipulates that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
Subsequently, Lu and Chen, along with two other couples, sought to challenge the decision in court. The Taipei High Administrative Court started hearings in the case in April 2015.
Yesterday’s ruling acknowledged the Council of Grand Justices’ Constitutional Interpretation No. 748 of May 24 last year, in which they ruled that the Civil Code’s definition of marriage violated the principles of freedom of marriage and equality enshrined in the Constitution.
However, Huang noted that the court cannot order local household registration offices to accept registration for same-sex marriage, as there is not yet a legal basis.
The interpretation gave the government two years to amend the Civil Code, the statement said, adding that in the meantime, the plaintiffs could still apply for marriage, but the marriages would only be legalized after the new marriage law has been promulgated.
Lu said she was disappointed by the ruling and would appeal the decision, asking the government and the legislature to expedite the amendment process to protect same-sex couples’ right to marry.
Lu’s lawyer, Victoria Hsu (許秀雯), said it was regrettable that all three couples have lost their court cases, despite the grand justices’ interpretation.
The court on Tuesday last week issued a similar ruling in the case of Liang and Chu, saying it did not have the authority to pressure household registration offices into recognizing same-sex marriages before a legal framework for such unions is promulgated into law.
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