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Taiwan court rejects gay couple's appeal to register marriage

The ruling is a setback in the fight for marriage equality in Taiwan as a bill to legalize same-sex marriage is currently being passed through the Legislative Yuan
Chi Chia-wei
Photo: YouTube

A Taiwan court has rejected a gay couple's appeal against a government agency for refusing to register their union.

Veteran gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei and his partner filed the complaint with the Taipei court last year after a local household registration agency refused to register their marriage.

The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday ruled that the agency did not violate the law that stipulates that 'a marriage contract should be between a man and a woman,' according to the Taipei Times.

Gay and lesbian activists have been lobbying the government for years to make same-sex unions legal while Chi himself has launched multiple legal bids to seek recognition of his marriage since 1986, but all have been rejected.

Chi has been quoted by the Agence France Presse as saying: 'The government is outdated and makes no progress over the years. This case concerns not just me but the welfare of all homosexual people.' And that he would appeal the ruling.

Another gay couple, Nelson Chen (Chen Ching-hsueh) and Johnson Kao (Kao Chih-Wei), who filed a similar complaint in 2011 decided to drop their case last year. Chen said that he had 'lost his faith in the judiciary' and had received threatening messages on Facebook. 

Same-sex marriage has been a major topic of discussion in Taiwan, which is regarded to be one of Asia's more liberal societies, since a draft bill that would legalize same-sex marriage passed a first reading of the Legislative Yuan on December 25 last year. If it passes a third and final reading, the bill will change all legal references to marriage to be gender-neutral, with terms like 'husband and wife' becoming 'spouse.'

The move has however triggered large-scale protests by groups opposing same-sex marriage since late last year. Last Sunday, groups supporting and against same-sex marriage held separate rallies at Freedom Square in Taipei.

(A Taiwanese TV show discussing same-sex marriage, in Mandarin)

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