Council of Grand Justices to rule on same-sex marriage in Taiwan on May 24

Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices will announce the ruling of a same marriage case on May 24, which experts said is expected to have deep ramificatio

Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices will announce the ruling of a same marriage case on May 24, which experts said is expected to have deep ramificatio (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices (大法官) will announce the ruling on a case concerning same-sex marriage on May 24, which experts said is expected to have deep ramifications on the development of same-sex marriage in Taiwan.

The case arose from gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei’s (祁家威) being turned down while applying for marriage registration with his male partner at the Household Registration Office in Wanhua District, Taipei City. An administrative lawsuit ensued, but the administrative court ruled against Chi.

Chi thought the section of Taiwan’s Civil Code defining marriage as an agreement made by the “male and the female parties” has stripped same-sex couples of their right to marriage and therefore is unconstitutional.

The Council of Grand Justices on March 24 began a session to hear the constitutional challenge concerning same-sex marriage, brought by Chi.     

This makes Taiwan the first Asian nation to agree to a constitutional interpretation on this issue, pushing for amendments to the Civil Code as a way to legalize same-sex marriage.

A retired judge who did not want to be identified said that if the law is ruled constitutional, it means same-sex couples will not be able to register their marriages at a household registry and therefore their marriages will not have legal protection, and if the law is ruled unconstitutional, same sex couples will have chances of being legally married. However, the retired judge said legal implications will depend on the actual content of the interpretation.     

Attorney Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) said that if the council thinks the current laws do not sufficiently protect same-sex marriage in the spirit of equal rights afforded to all citizens by the constitution, its ruling could also come as a form of warning that asks related agencies to rectify.

In this case, the solution of same-sex marriage will rest on amending laws, which is the responsibility of the Legislature.