Gay couple wins legal battle for full same-sex marriage recognition in Taiwan

2021.05.06

A Taiwan court on Thursday ruled in favor of a Taiwan-Macao gay couple in a legal test case that LGBT rights activists have regarded as the first step towards obtaining full recognition of same-sex unions with foreigners in Taiwan.

Even though the self-governed island was the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex unions, it currently prohibits marriage if the foreign partner’s country does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday revoked the decision made by the Household Registration Office in 2019 to reject the marriage registration of the couple. This was the first success in terms of international same-sex marriage rights, according to their lawyer Victoria Hsu, although the authorities can still appeal to a higher court.

Leong Chin-fai, 33, moved from Macao to Taiwan in 2017, and has since stayed with his Taiwanese partner Ting Tse-yen, 29. However, they were refused to register for marriage, despite Taiwan being Leong’s habitual residence.The two met with reporters outside the court after they learned of their victory, and thanked the court for ruling in their favor. They knew that many cross-border, same-sex couples were also waiting for the judgment, they said.

“Today’s ruling is not the end. It’s a process and a small milestone,” Leong said. “We hope in the future, all international same-sex couples can register their marriages directly, rather than having to go to court.”

Hsu urged the government to amend the law to avoid multiple legal battles as the ruling set a precedent that would not apply to other international same-sex couples.

Taiwan has long considered in the vanguard of the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Asia since it legalized same-sex marriage in 2019. More than 5,700 same-sex couples have since tied the knot, although there are still some restrictions that heterosexual couples do not face.

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