Timeline of efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Taiwan

TAIPEI (CNA) – Taiwan’s Cabinet approved a draft bill yesterday to allow same-sex marriage, in the latest attempt to create Asia’s first gay marriage law, despite strong opposition from conservative groups.

The following is a timeline of some of the major efforts that led up to the draft legislation.

1986 – Pioneering gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei (祁家威) called for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan.

1996 – Gay writer Hsu Yo-shen (許佑生) and his Uruguayan partner Gray Harriman held a public gay wedding ceremony, the first in Taiwan.

2000 – Chi Chia-wei asked for a constitutional interpretation of same-sex marriage but his request was rejected by the Justices of the Constitutional Court.

2006 – Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) proposed a same-sex marriage draft bill but it did not make it onto the legislative agenda.

2011 – Gay rights activist Nelson Chen (陳敬學) and his partner Kao Chih-wei (高治瑋) tried but failed to register as a married couple and they filed an administrative lawsuit in the Taipei High Administrative Court, seeking legal recognition of their marriage.

2013- Chi Chia-wei and his partner attempted to register their marriage at the household registration office in Wanhua District in Taipei but were not permitted to do so. Chi submitted a petition to the Ministry of the Interior to have the case heard, but the petition was rejected. He tried but did not succeed in filing a case with the Supreme Administrative Court.

2013 – The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Partnership Rights proposed draft bills on marriage equality and civil partnerships.

December 2016 – The Legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee passed a draft amendment to the Civil Code to allow same-sex marriage, which was sponsored by DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女).

Mar. 24, 2017 – The Constitutional Court held a hearing to allow supporters and opponents of marriage equality to debate whether the Civil Code section on marriage permitted same-sex marriage and if not, whether it was a violation of the Constitution. The hearing was broadcast live on TV and online.

May 24, 2017 – The Justices of the Constitutional Court ruled that the Civil Code provisions on marriage rights are unconstitutional and asked the Legislature to amend the relevant laws within two years to include the rights of gay couples.

Nov. 24, 2018 – Taiwan’s electorate votes in favor of three referendums put forth by the Coalition for the Happiness of our Next Generation to maintain the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and prevent the legalization of gay unions.

The three referendums put to the people were as follows:

  • Case No. 10: “Do you agree that the Civil Code regulations should restrict marriage to between a man and a woman?”
  • Case No. 12: “Do you agree to types of unions, other than those stated in the marriage regulations in the Civil Code, to protect the rights of same-sex couples who live together permanently?”
  • Case No. 14: “Do you agree that the Civil Code marriage regulations should be used to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married?”

Feb. 21, 2019 – The Cabinet approved a draft bill that will serve as the basis for same-sex couples aged 18 and older to marry and will be submitted to the Legislature before March 1 for review. A May 24 deadline was set for enactment of the bill.

By Chung Yu-chen