A court in Taiwan has rejected a gay couple’s appeal, denying them the right to marry.

Gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei and his partner made the legal challenge last year, after being turned away when trying to register a marriage.

According to the Hong Kong Standard, Taiwan’s High Administrative Court defended the prior decision, stating that same-sex marriages were illegal, and said that “a marriage contract should be between a man and a woman”.

Chi Chia-wei has made several such legal bids since 1986, but so far they have all been rejected.

The Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy group said in a statement: “We regret and are deeply saddened by the ruling … which shows that Taiwan stands still after 20 years while the United States and European countries are moving to support gay marriages.”

“We urge the court to face and acknowledge the importance of marital equal rights and return homosexual citizens their entitled rights to get married.”

A similar legal bid was sent to the country’s top court in 2012, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

In December, thousands attended a concert in support of same-sex marriage in Taiwan.