An administrative appeal is to be filed against the Taipei City Government after a transnational same-sex couple’s attempt to register their marriage was rejected, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said yesterday.
Ting Tse-yen, 28, and his Macanese partner, Leong Chin Fei, 31, yesterday applied to register their marriage at the Zhongzheng District Household Registration Office, but their request was rejected due to Leong’s nationality, the alliance said.
The legal issue the couple are battling is the same faced by more than 200 other same-sex couples, Leong said.
“We are taking legal action [against the city government] not just for ourselves, but also for the more than 200 couples like us,” he said.
The couple consider themselves the lucky ones because Leong has been able to secure residency without a marriage certificate, he said, adding that some couples cannot even be together due to visa issues.
Although same-sex marriage was legalized on May 24, hundreds of same-sex couples like Ting and Leong are still unable to marry because one of them comes from a nation where same-sex marriage is not legal, alliance secretary-general Chien Chih-chieh (簡至潔) said.
Article 46 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements (涉外民事法律適用法) stipulates that whether a marriage can be established depends on the national law of each involved party, attorney Daniel Chen (陳明彥) said.
Taiwanese can only marry a foreign same-sex partner if the latter comes from one of the 27 nations where same-sex marriage has been legalized, Chen said.
This undermines their rights to equality as defined in the Council of Grand Justices’ Interpretation No. 748 and guaranteed by the Constitution, he added.
Ting and Leong are the first of several couples who are working with the alliance to push for the legalization of all transnational same-sex marriages, attorney Victoria Hsu (許秀雯) said.
Three more transnational same-sex couples with slightly different legal issues also plan to file administrative appeals in collaboration with the alliance in the next two months, she said.
To legalize all transnational same-sex marriage, the government needs to announce that foreign laws which do not acknowledge same-sex marriage are not in line with the Constitution and therefore do not apply, she added.
“It does not necessarily require a law to be amended,” Hsu said.
Article 8 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements stipulates that courts and government agencies can disregard certain foreign laws if they undermine public order or go against the good morals (boni mores) of society, she said.
Since the government legalized same-sex marriage in May, about 1,000 same-sex couples registered their marriages, Chien said.
“We fought hard to overcome the gender barrier and this time we will overcome the nationality barrier,” she said. “Our country cannot treat people differently and deprive them of the freedom to marry based on their nationality, that is not right.”
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