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Mothers support son and son-in-law in court

The mothers of a Taiwanese gay couple publicly speak out to support their love and rights after suffering much torment and disbelief
Kao Chih-Wei and Chen Ching-Hsueh (top left and right) and their respective mothers (bottom left and right) enjoyed a vegetarian meal together after the court hearing yesterday
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The mothers of the Taiwanese gay couple fighting to have their marriage formally registered have appeared in court with their sons.

There was not much anger at the Taipei High Administrative Court yesterday (10 Apr). Instead, it was more of a heartwarming day that saw the couple’s parents, the judge and even the official sued showing their support one way or another.

As Chen Ching-Hsueh - who together with Kao Chih-Wei became the second gay couple to publicly tie the knot more than five years ago – put it, ‘we’re going to court today as if we’re preparing for a joyful occasion.’

They filed a lawsuit last year after being repeatedly refused the right to register their marriage.

Speaking outside the Court, Chen’s mother revealed it had taken her as many as ten years to accept his sexuality, ‘I and his father were both shattered, thinking why there was such a kid in our family.’

But she gradually came round since she wanted her son to have a partner after all. Kao is also so caring that he is a ‘daughter-in-law’ to her as much as an extra son.

Likewise, Kao’s mother had been reluctant to accept her son but chose to stand up yesterday for her son’s happiness and also other gays’ human rights.

'In the end, I just want my boy to be happy,' she said.

Indeed, even Tsai Wun-ru, the defendant from the Taipei City Zhongshan District Household Registration Office, said she is very supportive of Chen and Kao, admiring their courage and wishing them success.

She helped make Chen’s centenarian grandma’s family pedigree but was reportedly forced to deny the couple’s registration in accordance with the Ministry of Justice’s advice.

The Household Registration Office said they refused to register Chen and Kao’s marriage based on internal official norms from the Ministry in 1994.

In response, the couple’s lawyer pointed out that such internal norms are not laws and they cannot be used to limit people’s constitutional right to marry. The complete absence of same-sex marriage in the civil law is also against the principle of equality, he said.

Until 23 May 2007, under Taiwan's civil law, any marriage that had a public ceremony with two witnesses would be effectively official. After knowing each other in 2003, Chen and Kao publicly married in Sept 2006.

During the hearing, Chen held Kao's hand every now and then. When the judge gave Chen a chance to make some final remarks, he stood up to thank his mom, his 'most beautiful in-law' and friends, vowing to live blissfully with Kao.

The judge took his time to listen to all of Chen's heartfelt comments. He then paid tribute to the couple's love and wished them a happy life, before going on to remind Chen that all this was not legally related to the judgement and advice Chen to 'control himself a bit' next time.

The next hearing is scheduled for 15 May.

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