Academics are accusing the government of basic human rights violations after the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) earlier this year stripped a transgender couple of their legally married status, in a case that raises fundamental questions about the meaning of marriage.
Prior to getting married in October, Abbygail Wu (吳伊婷), 27, and her partner, Jiyi Wu (吳芷儀), 29, obtained the necessary papers by registering with government authorities to obtain their marriage certificate. In their application, Jiyi Wu applied as the “husband” in the couple, while Abbygail Wu did so as the “wife.”
Two months earlier, the Wus had undergone sex changes, or “gender reassignment surgery,” to tranform them from men into women. However, when earlier this year Jiyi Wu applied for legal status as a woman, the Taipei City Household Registration Office noticed some “irregularities” and turned to the city’s Department of Civil Affairs, which in turn requested input from the ministry.
In the end, the ministry revoked the marriage certificate and stated that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman.
Chiu Ming-tang (邱銘堂), an official with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), said the Council of Grand Justices’ Constitutional Interpretations, the Civil Code and rulings by the High Court on marriage-related cases supported the MOI’s view that under the current system, the definition of marriage is based on the prerequisite of the union of one male and one female.
For cases where a person involved has gender recognition issues, the MOI uses the date of the conclusion of reassignment surgery as the legal standard for defining the gender of an individual, Chiu said.
The legality of a marriage comes after such a distinction is made, Chiu said.
The deputy director of the MOI’s Department of Household Registration Affairs, Su Ching-chao (蘇清朝), said that based on the MOJ’s definition, the Wus had completed their gender reassignment prior to registering their marriage, and that under the Civil Code, both were considered female and their marriage was therefore invalid.
Jiyi Wu sees things otherwise.
“In the eyes of government officials, gender is far more important than the value of marriage and family,” Jiyi Wu told reporters last week.
Backed by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君), the Wus have called on the government to reverse its “illegal” decision and are threatening to take legal action by July 23 if the annulment is upheld.
They say they will ask the Supreme Court to explain why a legally recognized marriage can be “illegally revoked” by the government — a decision that could very well be a precedent in Taiwan.
Weighing in on the ministry’s decision last week, Chen Chao-yu, associate professor of law at National Taiwan University, told Gay Star News that the government had no legal grounds to cancel the marriage registration, a move that she described as “a violation of due process.”
Chen added that the ministry’s interpretation of marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, or husband and wife, was also open to debate.
Furthermore, despite the sex reassignment, the Wus remain the same individuals who met all the criteria to get legally married last year, Josephine Ho (何春蕤), a sexologist at National Central University, told the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper).
Ho said that the fact that changes in the Wus’ identity cards could be used post-facto to nullify their legal relationship reflected “institutional and regulatory contradictions in the law, from which no citizen should suffer.”
Chen said that there was a precedent to the case, when the government in 1994 continued to recognize as legal a union that became “homosexual” after the husband legally changed his gender.
If the Wus win, it would mean that people in Taiwan are free to change their legal gender after marriage and that the country has adopted de facto same-sex marriage, she said.
Additional reporting by Jake Chung, with CNA
Proposed legislation in the US outlines three conditions in which Washington would be authorized to protect Taiwan were China to invade, a report said yesterday. US Representative Ted Yoho this month said he would introduce a Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would authorize US military force if China were to invade Taiwan-controlled areas, including its outlying islands. According to a version of the bill obtained by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times), the bill lists three conditions in which a US president would be authorized to use military force to protect Taiwan: If China uses military force
The Supreme Court on Tuesday found four men guilty of attempted murder in the 2017 stabbing of Spanish surfer Ignacio Prio on a Pingtung County beach in the final ruling in the case, sentencing them to three-and-a-half to six years in prison. The defendants had appealed their convictions for attempted murder in the first and second rulings, which had also led to prison sentences ranging from three-and-a-half years to six years. The then-42-year-old Prio went to Jialeshui Beach (佳樂水) near Kenting (墾丁) on March 31, 2017, was attacked after he asked four men to remove their fishing lines from an area
Two new commuter trains are scheduled to be launched in January next year, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday. The acquisition of EMU-900 commuter train cars is part of the railway operator’s plan to replace 589 train cars that have been in operation for more than three decades. The agency has also placed orders to buy 600 intercity train cars. The first batch of 20 EMU-900 cars is to be delivered to the nation in September, although delivery might be delayed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said. The batch would be formed into two trains of 10
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s