A leading lesbian politician, Miao Po-ya warned that closeted Taiwanese could inadvertently be outed to their families if they make use of the country’s new same-sex marriage law.
Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, on Wednesday (22 May) signed legislation to allow same-sex couples to register for marriage in the country on Friday.
The Household Registration Department, meanwhile, issued a statement explaining the process for same-sex couples.
In Taiwan, marriage certification forms part of a household registration document.
Newlyweds move from their family’s household registration document to a new one for them and their partner.
Household authorities inform the head of their old household, usually a parent, that someone in the document has married.
In a Facebook post, Miao Po-ya warned that this could cause problems for closeted Taiwanese.
She suggested bringing the family household document to the marriage registration so that authorities can update it without informing the head of the household.
She also advised that it is possible to first remove yourself from the family household document.
Chief co-ordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, Jennifer Lu, cautioned LGBT Taiwanese to think carefully before proceeding with marriage.
‘Please prepare yourself for the possibility of your identity being exposed’ she urged.
She reminded LGBTI Taiwanese thinking of coming out that they could call the Taiwan LGBTI Hotline.
Miao made history in November last year. She was one of the first lesbian politicians to be elected as local council member.
First in Asia
Taiwan’s parliament last week became the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
The government bill, which largely avoids the term ‘marriage’, has been labeled a compromise by LGBTI rights campaigners.
In 2017, the country’s highest court ruled the Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex marriage.
But, in a bitterly-fought referendum, most Taiwanese citizens opted for a separate marriage law rather than changing the civil code which would have brought genuine equality.
LGBTI rights campaigners accused conservative and Christian groups of running a well-funded campaign of hate and scare-mongering.
Taiwan’s parliament voted in favor of a government bill offering same-sex couples similar rights to opposite-sex couples after years of court rulings, referendums, and tussles in parliament.
The crucial 4th line of the bill passed with 93 lawmakers voting for the bill, 66 opposing, and 27 abstaining.
Thousands of LGBTI rights supporters gathered outside parliament and cheered as the vote was announced.
In a last-minute effort to appease conservative lawmakers, Taiwan’s ruling party removed the word ‘marriage’ from the bill.
But, same-sex couples can still get register for marriage in the same way as other couples.
Couples can only adopt children if the child is the biological child of one of the couple.
Taiwanese citizens can only marry people of the same-sex that come from a country (there are 26 of them) that has legalized same-sex marriage.
Taiwan is the regional leader for LGBTI rights. Thailand’s ruling junta last year submitted a union bill to cabinet, affording limited rights to same-sex couples.