Same-sex couple leading court challenge in Taiwan to withdraw case tomorrow

This is a guest post by Amy Hsieh, a former aide in the Taiwan legislature and a doctoral student in political science at George Washington University.

The same-sex couple who was about to become a test case for marriage rights in Taiwan’s top court has announced they will formally withdraw their case tomorrow. According to a press release, Nelson Chen and Kao Chih-wei will hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon and then submit their motion to the court. This comes just a week after the court postponed a decision until late February on sending the case up to the Constitutional Court for interpretation.

This decision is a real head-scratcher, since their justifications seem thin and it comes over the objections of their attorney. Chen—who does the public speaking for the couple—has said that he is worried about the safety of his family and friends after getting threats on Facebook. He also has cited dissatisfaction with the court’s handling of the case, but it’s unclear what he would have liked to see handled differently.

The couple’s own pro bono lawyer, Liu Chi-wei, had requested the judge to send the case up for constitutional interpretation. Now Chen has posted an apology to Liu for deciding to withdraw the suit and thanked him for his hard work over the past year.

Chen is now urging their supporters to now instead support the Task Force’s efforts to push for a bill on domestic partnership rights, with whom he previously clashed over whether to proceed with the case in the first place.

It’s not yet clear whether this move will actually end this landmark case in Taiwan’s LGBT history. According to Chen’s lawyers, technically the court can deny the request to withdraw the suit if the case is deemed to be in the public interest.

Chen has scheduled a full day of public activities for tomorrow on top of the press conference. He will have lunch with the first gay couple to openly marry in the central Taiwan city of Taichung, shop for clothes at a boutique in Taipei’s gay-friendly Red Theater district, and take a blood test for HIV. Al Jazeera reporters will be covering his itinerary.

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