The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday ordered a household registration office to register a same-sex marriage involving a foreign national from a jurisdiction in which such marriages are illegal.
Taipei’s Zhongzheng District Household Registration Office had refused to register the marriage of Taiwanese Ting Tse-yan (丁則言) and his Macanese partner, Guzifer Leong (梁展輝), when they attempted to do so on Oct. 1, 2019.
The office based its decision on 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 states that “the formation of a marriage is governed by the national laws of each party.”
It means that same-sex couples involving a partner from a nation or area in which same-sex marriage is illegal — such as Macau — cannot marry in Taiwan or have a marriage conducted in a third nation legally recognized.
In its ruling, the administrative court cited Article 6 of the same act, which states that in specific situations where Taiwanese courts must consider the civil laws of foreign jurisdictions, the foreign law should be applied unless that nation’s laws specifically state that Taiwanese law should be applied.
Under the Macau Civil Code, legal jurisdiction for civil matters is based on a person’s place of “habitual residence,” it said.
Therefore, since Leong is a resident of Taiwan, Taiwanese law allowing same-sex marriage should take precedent, it added.
The court ordered the household registration office to validate the registration that the couple submitted in 2019.
Leong on Thursday thanked the court for its ruling, while noting that many other international same-sex couples in Taiwan have found themselves in the same situation.
Leong, who came to Taiwan in 2017 and runs a small bakery with his partner, said that he has long come to regard Taiwan as his home.
As of press time last night, it was unclear whether the household registration office would appeal the decision.
Chiu Shih-jung (邱士榮), director of the neighboring Daan Household Registration Office, said that the ruling likely “was not final” and that it applied only to the specific couple.
The bigger issue is that laws on how to treat international same-sex marriages lack uniformity, Chiu said.
“Civil servants hope that legal amendments correcting this situation will quickly be passed, so that they have a clear legal process to follow,” he said, referring to the Judicial Yuan in January approving draft legal amendments that would recognize nearly all same-sex marriages.
The amendments, which would revise Article 46 to recognize all same-sex marriages as long as one of the partners is Taiwanese, are awaiting Executive Yuan approval.
They would then need to be passed by the legislature.
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