This is a guest post by Amy Hsieh, a doctoral student of political science at the George Washington University and a former aide to Taiwanese lawmaker Bi-khim Hsiao.
A Taiwanese court is scheduled to issue a ruling Thursday that could allow the first legal marriage of a same-sex couple.
The suit was filed by Nelson Chen and Kao Chih-wei against the Taipei city government for rejecting their attempt to register their marriage.
Chen and Kao had held a public wedding banquet in 2006, before the civil code was amended the following year to require that marriages be officially registered with the government in order to be legally recognized. Prior to that amendment, marriages in Taiwan were considered legal as long as a public ceremony was held with witnesses present.
A hearing was held on November 29,
during which two expert witnesses spoke strongly in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.
They argued that discrimination based on sexual orientation would violate the constitution, which says all citizens are equal before the law, “irrespective of sex, religion, race, class or party affiliation.”
Their other argument was that Article 982 of the civil code is not clear on whether a marriage is necessarily between a man and a woman, since it merely stipulates the procedures for registering a marriage.
This latter point is on shakier ground, since Article 972 does state that “an agreement to marry shall be made by the male and female parties.” Amending such gender-specific language in the code is the focus of a draft bill being pushed by an umbrella advocacy group, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights.
The defendant in this case, the district household registration office, did not take a stance on the issue of same-sex marriage during the hearing.