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5 Apr 2012

Taiwanese gay couple to appeal unsuccessful marriage registration in court

A Taiwanese gay couple, who had unsuccessfully applied to the Department of Household Registration to be officially recognised as a household, has filed a petition for the case to be heard in court.

Chen Jing-hsueh and Gao Jhih-wei, who is the first same-sex couple who sought to register at the Taipei City Zhongshan District Household Registration Office on 18 Aug 2011, had their application turned down.

Chen Jing-hsueh (right) and husband Gao Jhih-wei.

They then wrote to the Department of Civil Affairs (Taipei City Government) and were told that same-sex marriage is not permitted under existing civil legislations, and so the Household Registration Office is unable to approve their application. They were additionally advised to appeal within 30 days should they feel aggrieved by the decision made by the Office “since the issue of same-sex marriage is still being studied.”

Chen, who is the founder of Taiwan Gay and Lesbian Couples Association (GLCA) - an advocacy group, decided to go to court after his appeal to the Taipei City Government was unsuccessful.

The couple was unofficially married in a public wedding ceremony in September 2006. They are believed to be only the second same-sex couple to wed in a public ceremony after Dr Yu Shen Shu and his partner, who is only publicly known as Gray, who wed in Taipei in 1996. Several other same-sex couples have since followed suit.

Chen and Gao filed a lawsuit in August 2011 and named the Taipei City Zhongshan District Household Registration Office as the defendant in the court case. The case was first heard on 27 March 2012 during which an officer representing the Household Registration Office denied having made any mistake in rejecting the couple’s application.

The couple did not attend the hearing but were represented by a lawyer Jerry Kuo-Cheng Huang (黃國城) who argued that civil law does not specify that only a male person and a female person can register for marriage.

As the couple believes that gay men and lesbians deserve the right to marry, they decided to sue the Zhongshan District Household Registration Office to demand their right to be registered as a household.

Chen and Gao also added that since they have abided by the laws governing Ceremonial Marriage under the common laws to hold a public wedding ceremony in September 2006, so the Registration Office should process their application.

Until 23 May 2007, under Taiwan's Civil Law, any marriage that has a public ceremony with two witnesses will make the marriage effectively official. But after 23 May 2007, Clause 982 was amended so that only with registered unions will be recognised.

Huang argued that since Chen and Kao's public ceremony was held on 24 September 2006 before the amendment came into effect, the old law should apply.

Huang, who spoke on behalf of the couple, told the media that the couple is seeking a legal and formal recognition of their relationship as well as other legal rights and entitlements such as adoption of children.

In a tele-conversation with the Liberty Times, Chen, who is in Japan, said: "The constitution provides for equal rights for every individual, and no one should be denied that basic right of a citizen. Chen says his marriage with Gao has been going on for six years, and this law suit is not to obtain more legal rights for gay men and lesbians, but to have the rights they deserve." He vowed to try his best to win, and does not rule out seeking a constitutional interpretation from the court if the current suit fails."

The next court hearing is scheduled for 10 April 2012. Chen, Gao and both their mothers are expected to appear in court for the first time, to show their support for legalising same-sex marriage. Supporters and media are welcome to attend the hearing. 

The above article is translated from news reports in Chinese linked below.

A panel discussion with Chen Jing-hsueh, his lawyer Jerry Kuo-Cheng Huang
and citizen reporter He Chung-Hsun (in Chinese). See related article in Chinese.


Reader's Comments

1. 2012-04-05 19:08  
Wishing you men the very very best of luck !!!!!!
2. 2012-04-05 22:24  
I think marriage discrimination against LGTBs is just "bullshit!".
Love is an affection and something emotional, isn't it? There can't be seperations of emotions between genders. I hope world can understand that and show some respect to gay people. By attempts of these brave people, one day whole humanity will understand that I hope...
3. 2012-04-05 23:03  
good luck with this. It would be amazing if they won, and opened the possibility of civil partnerships for LGBT in Taiwan. Taiwan is already one of the most gay friendly places in Asia. If they win, it will be an amazing step forward.
4. 2012-04-06 00:10  
Wishing you both good luck!

Some says we shouldn't worry about marriage because it is a "straight culture". While to me if we don't want to be discriminated we have to be able to married too. Otherwise it's a discrimination whether you want it or not in the future with you're partner. Personally i have mixed feeling whether i want it or not but i think we have to support our friend who want to.
5. 2012-04-06 00:31  
I thought many high-profile leaders and politicians in Taiwan have been Christians and evangelists. South Korea is one of the world's most Christian societies on earth, and Taiwan is not far behind, especially the elite class.
Comment edited on 2012-04-06 00:32:31
6. 2012-04-06 01:37  
Good luck... I would love to see Taiwan recognize same-sex marriage. Maybe it will even happen before the US!
7. 2012-04-06 01:43  
It confused me.

1, Do not understand why people want to get married.

2, Since the two people to get married, why do need to have the permission of the two outside.

3, Marriage is the matter of between two people? Parents matter? Or Ministry of Civil Affairs? Government? Or Religious groups? or Eve bothering a GOD。

1, 人们为什么一定要结婚。
8. 2012-04-06 03:21  
為啥一定要結婚? 所為”結婚“說穿了還不是一種“性交易合法化”嗎? 那是男女之間得玩意兒, 為何一定要把男女價值觀建立在男男關係上呢? 我們應該有我們一套對男男關係價值觀的體現, 所以還是算了,你們要好好一起生活, 好好愛這對方, 那就夠了,別人認不認同你們根本不重要。。。
9. 2012-04-06 04:14  
Where is the Free China that my Dad used to talk? All the best for this couple and hope they get what they want.
Comment #10 was deleted by its author on 2012-04-06 06:04
11. 2012-04-06 06:46  
I have always considered two benefits of being gay - no marriage and no children. Now we have people trying to change that. No mater how many pleas I hear, I cannot understand why homosexuals wish to apply heterosexual models to same sex relationships.
12. 2012-04-06 07:58  
However you do it...for what ever reasons...fight on!

Good luck! If this is what you want...go for it!
13. 2012-04-06 08:43  
wow very inspiring,!
14. 2012-04-06 09:00  
>11 and 7> I agree completely, and I'm against marriage. (only lawyers benefit from it)

However, I think it's important that same sex relationships are recognised officially by the state, so that same sex couples can have the same advantages that married heteros do: tax breaks, inheritance issues, next-of-kin legal status, household registration, and so on. Until same sex couples are given these rights LGBT people will always be second class citizens. I think the model used by the UK of a civil partnership is the way forward.

but so many gays want to dress up in a wedding gown and walk down the aisle....

5> You are wrong. Taiwan is not Christian at all. There are a few missionaries and nasty God botherers here, but very few people take any notice of them The most Christian society on the planet is America.
Comment edited on 2012-04-06 09:05:56
15. 2012-04-06 16:12  
Men are social animals. Maslow says people have needs of belongingness. Some people desire to belong to a community and a country as a couple; that is, the two of them want to belong to each other first above others. They don't just want to have sex with each other legally; they want a financial, social, emotional and spiritual union, too.
Marriage is spiritual and ultimate union between two souls. That is why it's so hard for heterosexual citizens to grant homosexual citizens this right. They themselves are afraid to face it honestly, sometimes at least.
16. 2012-04-06 17:16  
I'm really sick of those gays who oppose gay marriage. Why do you want to interfere with others' personal lives? It has nothing to do with you. If you don't want to get married, just don't get married, and you have that freedom regardless whether there's marriage equality or not. You have no right to impose your life style on other human beings, gay or straight, no matter on the issue of whether to enter a marriage, or any other personal decision.
Comment #17 was deleted by its author on 2012-04-06 17:16
Comment #18 was deleted by its author on 2012-04-10 01:51
19. 2012-04-06 22:55  
good luck guys...

Hello guys!
20. 2012-04-06 22:55  
good luck guys...

Hello guys!
21. 2012-04-07 00:35  

22. 2012-04-07 10:13  
I agree with plin/ number 16...just read his post and save me the typing
Comment #23 was deleted by its author on 2012-04-08 00:46
24. 2012-04-07 22:39  
Most of asian countries are like this.Goodluck!
25. 2012-04-08 00:47  
U r right #16.

Getting married isn't about wedding. It is about an agreement you sign. It will be very helpful when one of the couple pass away. Then you see what will affect you the most without the paper. Don't think when you are 20 to 50+. If a couple are in 60+ years old. They had been living together for 30 yrs. You can see the economic impact without legally married after passing of one's spouse can be devastating. Lose their house, retirement benefit, unable to sign any document for his loved one for funeral or medical treatment and so on. It is the same in straight married. That's why they want to be legally married. Otherwise a wedding party will do. Why sign the paper?

In Canada, many gay couples have their own biological children or adopted children after gay marriage was legalized here since 2005. Guys, do you see how wonderful their future will be when their children grow up?

If you prefer to die alone, it is your right. Leave those who want to get married to fight on. Without your condemnation will help to some extend. There are many unmarried straight people who do not believe in marriage. Do they condemn about marriage? NO. Simply they respect other people's choice. SILENCE IS GOLDEN (A proverbial saying, often used in circumstances where it is thought that saying nothing is preferable to speaking.) You can preserve your single life eternity. Since those prefer married do not condemn your lifestyle, why you have attack them? Fair? SILENCE IS GOLDEN. Babies.
26. 2012-04-08 06:12  
【Agree with #25】

為啥一定要結婚? 所為”結婚“說穿了還不是一種“性交易合法化”嗎? 那是男女之間得玩意兒, 為何一定要把男女價值觀建立在男男關係上呢? 我們應該有我們一套對男男關係價值觀的體現, 所以還是算了,你們要好好一起生活, 好好愛這對方, 那就夠了,別人認不認同你們根本不重要。。。

【Reply #8】

It's just different cultural backgrounds and personal perspectives. Basically, straight people around our lives get married gradually, and we want something in common, we don't want and don't need to be unusual or special, we just want something equal and same, is it an unforgiveable fault that should be attacked? Besides, lots of gay people are lacking of sense of safe, and in fact gay relationship is not that stable, although marriage is just a piece of paper, this paper may lead more serious, reliable and responsible relationship. Paying respect, it's non of your business that people want to get married. You can choose to be alone eternally, but it doesn't mean others want the same like you.
Comment edited on 2012-04-08 06:39:30
27. 2012-04-08 08:00  
This has nothing to do with whether I personally want to get married or not.

I am a UK citizen. i was one of the people fighting for equal rights for LGBT, including the right to marry if wanted. We don't all use or want to use the things we have a right to, but that doesn't mean we should not have the rights.

When a society denies some people the rights it gives others, it effectively labels them second class citizens. The law should be the same for everyone.

Otherwise disrespect becomes a part of the system - as it did in South Africa under apartheid, as it does in Malaysia with religious discrimination and as it does in China where city folk get way more rights than those who do not have city status.

Fair treatment of LGBT people is a touchstone for a respectable society.
Comment edited on 2012-04-08 08:00:54
28. 2012-04-08 12:29  
why nothing happened in the mainland of china??it seems to me that NOBODY stand up for us, if the gay marriage is recognized in Taiwan, i would think of transfering to Taiwan one day.
29. 2012-04-08 12:29  
why nothing happened in the mainland of china??it seems to me that NOBODY stand up for us, if the gay marriage is recognized in Taiwan, i would think of transfering to Taiwan one day.
30. 2012-04-08 14:15  
It will be very interesting if they succeed. In the UK recently there has been a lot of froth and bother (largely from religious groups) about the use of the term 'marriage'.

It's just a word for heavens sake!

Good luck to these two guys.
31. 2012-04-08 16:19  
#26. I agreed.

Marriage - It is not a word of heaven sake. It will take HALF of YOUR WEALTH (if he has zero net worth) + continuing spouse supports for years upon separation/divorce. It is fair.

Canada is even more advance then just signing this paper. Some people wanted to avoid the $$$ payment while divorce. lol Sorry, The new rules apply even you live together for more than two years. Don't think you can get out of it. This is so called advanced society. Don't play the game, the laws will play you here.

Canadian gay or straight relationship is more serious due to the laws, which I think it is fair for everyone.
32. 2012-04-08 17:47  

33. 2012-04-09 14:01  
I would like to recommend a book to those who are interested in gay marriage, "Couple Therapy with Gay Men", by David Greenan and Gil Tunnell. The Chinese title of it is "同志伴侶諮商".
34. 2012-04-12 13:25  
I love Taiwan!
35. 2012-04-13 14:26  
Why are some readers writing about China? Taiwan is not China. Taiwan is an independent democracy. If that changes in the future, then Taiwan will, tragically, be a formerly free nation conquered by hostile China, which is a rich dictatorship....(I am not against the often wonderful Chinese people, only against the continuously corrupt brutal government.)
36. 2012-04-13 14:26  
Why are some readers writing about China? Taiwan is not China. Taiwan is an independent democracy. If that changes in the future, then Taiwan will, tragically, be a formerly free nation conquered by hostile China, which is a rich dictatorship....(I am not against the often wonderful Chinese people, only against the continuously corrupt brutal government.)
37. 2012-04-13 22:18  
well i live in canada but im engaged to my bf who lives in philippines and as soon as gay marriage is legal in first asian country to allow it we will go and marry there also live together too we are waiting patiently!
38. 2012-04-15 09:30  
Marriage is not for everyone but never be too sure who it may be for -- it might be for you. I supported all efforts to earn marriage rights in my own country of Canada, never expecting to myself benefit from them ... but I have.

I spent most of my life in relationships but was single when I got HIV. I also met my someone exceptional during that time -- he is negative but we started dating and became a couple. I married my partner and this gives us a great deal of stability in terms of cementing the trust in our open relationship, ensuring he will undertake the decisions I chose regarding my health should things go wrong and establishing recognition of successor rights should I pass away. The choice to marry was made for both romantic and governmental reasons but has also unexpectedly given us back more than that in social acceptance.

My spouse is and was already Canadian citizen when we married but he hails from Taiwan. We would be very pleased if Taiwan also took this step forward and once again led the curve in democratic rights in Asia. We would be happy for everyone there to achieve the level of rights we have here and including for ourselves, when we visit family in Taiwan to depart one country accepting our marriage to arrive in another!

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