The executive body of the Republic of China (Taiwan) submitted a bill to the legislature Thursday to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
In astatement, Premier Su Tseng-chang acknowledged the national referendum last year, where the majority of the island nation’s populace voted against recognizing same-sex marriage. Su also maintained the Executive’s Yuan’s position that the decision of the Constitutional Court stands, and carries the same weight as the nation’s constitution, itself. Despite this acknowledgement, Su stated that it is not the Executive Yuan’s position that the the country’s Civil Code should be amended.
In May 2017 the Constitutional Court of the Republic of China ruled, in its Opinion No. 748, that Articles 972, 973, 980 and 982 under Chapter II of the Civil Code pertaining to marriage was unconstitutional. Specifically, the civil code provisions referred to above restrict marriages to those between a man and a woman. The court based its analysis on Articles 7 and 22 of the Constitution, which broadly guarantees equal protection to all citizens under the law. The Constitutional Court noted that the government has been unsuccessful with producing legislation that would extend recognition marriages to same-sex couples. The Judicial Yuan required the government to amend the Civil Code within two years of its decision. As of May 25, 2019, the deadline for the Legislature would have expired. Should the Legislature fail to meet this deadline, same-sex couples may proceed with their marriage unions, regardless of whether the Civil Code has been amended.
Officially, the bill reflects the Executive Yuan’s position that the Constitutional Court’s opinion should be implemented. Despite no proposed amendments to the existing Civil Code, the draft of the bill addresses what defines a same-sex union, eligibility criteria, as well as provisions regarding property, custody, conflict, and dissolution. Interestingly, the bill designates same-sex unions as “第二條關係”, which roughly translates to a “second relationship.” It appears the bill intends to circumvent the Executive Yuan’s not amending of the Civil Code by stating that the marriage provisions under the Civil Code shall apply to the parties specified under this bill.
Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.