Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Same-sex couples gear up for marriage deadline

Staff writer, with CNA

Participants in the Taiwan LGBT Pride parade gather on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei on Oct. 27 last year.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

A total of 157 same-sex couples plan to register to get married at household registration offices on May 24, the day the Council of Grand Justices set for same-sex marriages to be legalized, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said in a recent Facebook post.

To mark the historic day, the LGBTI rights organization also plans to arrange a traditional wedding banquet outside the Presidential Office Building in Taipei on May 25.

Writer Chen Hsueh (陳雪) and her partner plan to be among the couples registering to get married that day.

The registration and wedding plans are going ahead, despite uncertainty over how the Legislative Yuan plans to handle competing demands from groups in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and those opposed to categorizing same-sex unions as marriages.

On May 24, 2017, the Council of Grand Justice ruled that the prohibition of same-sex marriage in the Civil Code was unconstitutional and that within two years, the relevant authorities must amend or enact laws in accordance with Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748.

However, a referendum on whether to support the legalization of same-sex marriage through amendments to the Civil Code was defeated in November last year.

When asked: “Do you agree that the right to marriage of persons of the same sex should be protected by legislation under the chapter on marriage of the Civil Code?” 6,949,697 Taiwanese voted against the initiative, while 3,382,286 voted in favor of it.

Nonetheless, the Legislative Yuan on March 5 voted to send the “enforcement act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748” to a second reading.

It is the first draft act created using the name of the constitutional interpretation, which would allow same-sex couples to register their marriage or divorce at any household registration office.

To appease those who oppose treating same-sex unions as marriages, the Legislative Yuan on March 15 also voted to send another draft bill, which would limit the use of the words “marriage” and “spouse” to heterosexual couples, to a second reading.

It was drafted in response to the passing of Referendum No. 12, which asked: “Do you agree that the right to persons of the same sex to create a permanent union should be guaranteed by an institution other than marriage as defined by the Civil Code?”

As it is less than one month before May 24, the alliance on Thursday issued a statement saying that the “enforcement act of Referendum No. 12” diverges from the council’s 2017 ruling.

Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan in a news release on Friday urged lawmakers to pass “enforcement act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748” before May 24, so that same-sex couples can marry legally.

The Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, a conservative group, on Friday held a news conference, calling on legislators to stick to the results of last year’s referendum and support the “enforcement act of Referendum No. 12.”

Draft acts have to pass second and third readings by the full Legislative Yuan before becoming laws.

It is unclear what would happen if the legislature passes both drafts.

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