In a sudden policy reversal, the government on Thursday said it would allow same-sex couples with one Taiwanese and one foreign national to register their marriage even if the foreign partner is from a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex unions.
In a directive to all local governments, the Ministry of the Interior said a previous practice that excluded such couples was discriminatory against them and contradicted the law on which same-sex marriage is based.
Taiwan in May 2019 became the first country in East Asia to legalize same-sex marriage following the enactment of the Act for Implementation of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748 (司法院釋字第748號解釋施行法).
Photo courtesy of TAPCPR
Over the past four years, however, same-sex couples that include one partner from a country or region that does not recognize same-sex marriage have been barred from officially tying the knot in Taiwan. Household registration offices across the country have rejected applications for marriage registration by such couples based on a directive issued by the ministry in July 2019.
The directive cited 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), which stipulates that the formation of a marriage is governed by the foreign partner’s home country.
Affected cross-national same-sex couples have challenged the rule, mostly with the pro bono support of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, by suing household registration offices that rejected their marriage registrations.
Since March 2021, the Taipei High Administrative Court has ruled in favor of all five cross-national same-sex couples, involving partners from Hong Kong, Japan Malaysia, Macau and Singapore, who filed lawsuits over their rejected marriage registrations.
In three of those cases, the court overrode the ministry’s directive and instead based its ruling on Article 8 of the same act, which stipulates that the law of a foreign country shall not be applied if it results in “a violation of the public order or boni mores of the Republic of China.”
Despite those rulings, the ministry said they were isolated cases and that it was legally bound to continue rejecting the registration of marriages by certain cross-national same-sex couples in accordance with Article 46.
However, the ministry’s directive issued on Thursday, which took effect immediately, instructed household registration offices to adopt Article 8 instead of Article 46 when cross-national same-sex couples apply to register their union.
The ministry said the change in policy is in line with a decision at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday last week, adding that it was made because the administrative court had made “consistent” judgements on the matter in several lawsuits.
However, the ministry said that the new rule would not apply to same-sex couples involving one partner from China, which does not recognize same-sex marriage, as cross-strait marriages are governed by separate laws.
Cross-strait rules stipulate that such same-sex couples would have to register their marriage in China before they can apply in Taiwan, it said.
In a statement on Thursday night, several rights groups, including the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights and the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, welcomed the ministry’s new rule, saying it demonstrates the Cabinet’s efforts to grant equal rights to the same-sex community.
However, they said it is regrettable that hurdles remain for same-sex couples involving a Chinese partner, adding that they would continue to urge the government to grant all same-sex couples equal rights.
INCREASED RISK: The Omicron BA.2.75 subvariant has higher immune evasive capacity, but the CECC is more concerned about newer subvariants such as XBB and BQ.1 With the peak season for infectious respiratory diseases coming to an end, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that details of the next phase of lifting COVID-19 masking rules — removing the mask requirement in most indoor settings — are to be announced this week. Discussions on lifting other COVID-19 restrictions are also being held, including further easing border control measures, home isolation requirements and revising the definition for reporting cases, while also downgrading COVID-19 to a lower category of notifiable communicable disease, said Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC. As the daily
‘UNACCEPTABLE’: The foreign ministry said that China’s behavior broke international law, while Johnny Chiang was worried such balloons could be used against Taiwan A suspected Chinese surveillance balloon flying over the US was yesterday condemned by officials in Taipei and sparked calls for the government to plan countermeasures. The Pentagon on Thursday said it had detected a Chinese surveillance balloon flying over the country. Beijing has said the balloon is a civilian meteorological device that drifted into US territory after being blown off course. The National Security Bureau and Ministry of National Defense should investigate whether surveillance balloons could be used against Taiwan and prepare to respond to such acts, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s postponement
PEACE AND STABILITY: The two nations called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Taiwan Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of force or coercion The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday thanked France and Australia for voicing their support for Taiwan, saying that peace across the Taiwan Strait is crucial to the stability and prosperity of international society. France and Australia on Monday pledged to deepen ties with Taiwan and reiterated their support for its participation in international organizations at this year’s Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations in Paris. The meeting between French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna, French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) and Australian Minister for Defence Richard Marles was the second
DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM: Czech president-elect Petr Pavel said his nation stands firmly on the side of democracy and would boost cooperation with Taipei in all aspects Czech president-elect Petr Pavel spoke by telephone with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties and a diplomatic coup for Taipei. Tsai spoke with Pavel for 15 minutes in a harmonious atmosphere, Presidential Office spokeswoman Lin Yu-chan (林聿禪) said, adding that Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) was also present during the conversation. Lin quoted Pavel as telling Tsai that Taiwan is a trustworthy partner, adding that the Czech Republic stands firmly on the side of democracy and supports Taiwan in maintaining a lively democratic system free from authoritarian coercion. The Czech Republic would