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A year after Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage, hundreds of couples are still unable to get wed because of a legal loophole

Patrick Kelleher May 18, 2020
China same-sex marriage

Lesbian couple hold hands wearing wedding dresses. (Carl Court/Getty)

It is a year since Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage, but there is one group of people who’ve been left behind by the legislation.

Under the law, a person who lives in Taiwan but is from a country where same-sex marriage is not legal is prohibited from marrying a partner of the same gender.

This means that there are many same-sex couples in Taiwan that are unable to marry because one or both partners are originally from elsewhere.

Human rights groups in the country estimate that the flaw in the legislation affects around 1,000 couples.

Taiwan couples excluded from same-sex marriage are waiting for change.

They are now calling on the Taiwanese government to amend the legislation so people of any nationality can enter into same-sex unions in the country.

“Last year we watched other couples get married but we couldn’t,” Cho Yen-chun told the Jakarta Post.  Her partner is from Hong Kong where same-sex marriage is not legal.

“It’s depressing enough, and now we can’t even meet because of the coronavirus.”

“I hope President Tsai’s government can amend the law as soon as possible,” Cho added.

There is no legal protection for us if we can’t get married.

An estimated 3,600 couples have entered into same-sex marriages in Taiwan since the practice was legalised last year.

Yesterday, many of those couples celebrated — but those who remain excluded posted notes, photos and airline tickets tubs on Lennon Walls near President Tsai Ing-wen’s office to appeal for a change in legislation.

“There is no legal protection for us if we can’t get married,” said Tan Bee Guat, who is from Malaysia. Guat has been staying in Taiwan on a student visa to be with her partner.

“I can’t be a student forever.”

The country became the first in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage last year.

Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage on May 17 last year after legislators voted for a government-backed bill that would define a union between a same-sex couple as a marriage, becoming the first country in Asia to make the move.

Conservative opponents had proposed rival bills that would define partnerships as “same-sex unions” or “same-sex familial relationships.”

Earlier this year, the president of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen battled a wave of homophobic fake news by her opponents seeking to discredit her after she legalised same-sex marriage.

More: Taiwan

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