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Scholars dispute decision to revoke same-sex trans couple’s marriage in Taiwan

Scholars dispute decision to revoke same-sex trans couple’s marriage in Taiwan

The Taiwanese government should not have cancelled a same-sex trans couple’s marriage, according to scholars.

Abbygail Wu and Ji-yi Wu were both born male and underwent gender reassignment operations last July.

They got legally married in October but Ji-yi did not officially register her new gender until this year – at which point their marriage license was cancelled by the Interior Ministry.

Chao-yu Chen, National Taiwan University’s Associate Professor for Law, said there was a precedent of sort in 1994. Back then, the government kept intact a marriage that turned into a ‘homosexual’ one when the husband legally changed his gender.

Her opposition to the government’s action this time round is threefold, Chen told Gay Star News.

First, she noted it is only when a person meets all the ministry’s criteria for a gender change and then register it does the new classification takes effect.

‘The ministry shall determine the sexes of the couple in accordance with their registration at the time of their marriage, that is, one man and one woman,’ explained the feminist legal scholar.

She added the ministry had no legal ground to cancel the registration, making it ‘a violation of due process.’

The couple’s genders are a complicated issue, but she said the ministry’s interpretation of marriage as one between a man and a woman, or a husband and a wife, itself is also open to contestation.

National Central University’s sexologist Josephine Chuen-juei Ho, meanwhile, told The Liberty Times that the government has violated a ‘very basic human right’, revoking the marriage beyond its remit.

The Wus are still the same individuals who met all criteria to tie the knot – that changes in their identity cards nullified their legal relationship have only reflected institutional and regulatory contradictions in the law, from which no citizen should suffer, she said.

Abbygail spoke to local media of how incomprehensible it is for ‘gender’ to override ‘marriage and family values.’ It hurt to have a legally registered marriage revoked by a piece of administrative decoument, she said.

The couple has vowed to appeal their case by 23 July should the Interior Ministry not review its decision.

Chen suggested that the current case involves a violation of constitutional ‘equality right’ and the ‘freedom to marry’. In particular, it is about the freedom to change one’s sex.

If the Wus win, together with the 1994 case, it will mean people are free to change their legal gender after marriage and Taiwan will have ‘de facto’ same-sex marriage, she said.