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Taiwanese gay couple suspends registration fight

A gay couple seeking formal marriage registration in Taipei has halted their litigation amid immense pressure, stressing they can still be blissful without it
With parents' blessing, Chen Ching-Hsueh and Kao Chih-Wei have recently secured a place to be buried together in future

A Taiwanese gay couple has decided to suspend the legal fight to register their marriage after concerns from parents and relatives over potential changes to inheritance entitlements, even as the government releases a landmark report calling for support for sexualities rights.

Just over a week after Chen Ching-Hseuh, Kao Chih-Wei and their mothers appeared in court together, Chen revealed on Facebook yesterday (20 Apr) that they are temporarily suspending the case against the Taiwanese government’s repeated refusal to register their marriage.

Despite receiving widespread online support, Chen points out their families are now ‘unprecedentedly dispirited’.

‘Seniors in our families have asked [my] mom to beware how a [same-sex marriage] law, once passed, would start changing the order of inheritance in the civil law,’ he said, noting pressure facing both families have made ‘what we’re looking forward to also what we’re afraid of.’

He added what used to be a pure relationship and happy union has unknowingly drawn both families into an embarrassing stalemate.

On lawyers’ advice, Chen told Gay Star News that he currently cannot elaborate further on topics such as the existing inheritance rights gay couples have and whether the suspension has made Kao less protected.

The Facebook confession, he said, aims only to induce people in a similar situation to reflect on the real meaning of marriage.

It is only after the administrative litigation started that Chen realized none of the three branches of power, or man-made law is capable of giving gay citizens innate ‘peace’ and ‘happiness’.

Eventis Liu and Jerry Kuo, the couple’s voluntary lawyers, have jointly expressed their support.

‘Lawyers should not use others’ life to fight for human rights,’ Liu said. ‘The law is there to help everyone secure their well-being, but people do not necessarily need it to be happy.’

The couple and their lawyers have remained positive about the litigation should it eventually go on.

In a separate development, the Office of the President suggests yesterday in its first human rights report that Taiwan has offered welfare to people with diversified sexualities in many categories, but since same-sex (and unmarried heterosexual) families do not enjoy relevant rights protection such as tax benefits or the right of abode, there has to be review and improvement.

Citing Article 23 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the report says family protection should be extended to unmarried couples and other diversified families to get rid of discrimination based on sexualities and sexual identification.

Notwithstanding the apparently positive move, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights has criticized the government for ‘lying publicly’ and evading the fact that LGBT people can by no means enjoy welfare as a relative or partner in their relationships.

According to a poll of 1141 people aged between 20 and 59 by local TV station TVBS released this week, 49% of the respondents support same-sex marriage, and 29% are against it. Of those who know some gay people, 64% are for homosexual marriage. The level of support is among the highest in history.

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