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
GREATER NUMBER: The sorties might have been a response to the US and the EU expressing concern on Friday over China’s ‘provocations’ in the Taiwan Strait Twenty-five Chinese military aircraft and four naval ships were detected around Taiwan from 6am Saturday to 6am yesterday, including eight airplanes that had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and another two that entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft that entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ were a Y-8 anti-submarine plane and a BZK-005 uncrewed aerial vehicle, the Ministry of National Defense said. The aircraft that flew across the median line include two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, four J-16 multipurpose fighters and two J-10 jets, the ministry’s official Web site showed. Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the
Mask easing: Teachers are allowed to take their masks off while lecturing indoors, but students should keep theirs on, as COVID-19 measures ease this week The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it
LUNAR NEW YEAR PEAK: Taiwanese who are in China should get vaccinated and consider returning early, as infection rates are expected to increase, the CECC said China faces five major problems once COVID-19 begins spreading there, with a peak in infections likely during the Lunar New Year holidays, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said yesterday. Wang wrote on Facebook that according to the center’s data, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in China is worth noting, as the new Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2 spreading in China are highly infectious and are more transmissible than the previously dominating Omicron subvariants. “The virus cannot be eliminated even under China’s strict control measures,” he wrote. “Its policy
‘SEXUAL ASSAULT’: Taipei prosecutors said that cooperation agreements between Taiwan and the Czech Republic grant Czech officials protection against prosecution The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday reaffirmed that it would not charge a Czech official with sexual assault because he is protected by diplomatic immunity. The office released a statement saying it has verified that the man works for the Czech Economic and Cultural Office Taipei’s foreign affairs corps and is thereby protected from criminal prosecution. A foreign graduate student in Taiwan had filed a complaint alleging that the section head of the Czech Economic and Trade Section had sexually assaulted her on April 21 last year. The woman said the Czech official had invited her to his home and then forced her