Host: TAPCPR Secretary General, Chih-Chieh CHIEN.
TAPCPR Executive Officer and Chairperson of Equal Marriage Lawyers, Victoria HSU
Lesbian couple: Dustin & Ray
Lesbian couple: Jennifer Lu & Ling Chen
Lesbian couple: Cube & Candy
Organiser: Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR)
Co-organiser: Tong-Kwang Lighthouse Presbyterian Church、The lobby alliance for LGBT human rights、Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association、Gay and Lesbian Awakening Day
On the 1st August, which is the eve of the “Qi Xi” Festival (dubbed Valentine’s Day of the Lunar Calendar, a celebration of love), 30 same-sex couples will appear in the morning en masse at the Household Registration Office, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City. With their signed marriage agreements, they will be demanding to register their marriages. Although the event will stop the Office from dealing with the “general public” for about half an hour, the TAPCPR Secretary General, Chih-Chieh CHIEN says, “Registering one’s marriage is a legal act. Homosexuals are citizens who should be able to exercise this legal right to register their marriages at their local Household Registration Office. Furthermore, the longer Taiwan does not recognise Equal Marriage, the more the gay and lesbian population will have to mobilize all their personal resources to fight to exercise their rights, and there is no guarantee they will be able to have their families protected by law. We hope those citizens who are inconvenienced today will spare a thought for those who have been inconvenienced by the law of this country for many years.”
After this event, the volunteer group of lawyers organised by TAPCPR will be entrusted by three same-sex couples to file an administrative petition against the authorities’ decision to refuse to recognise their marriages. The aim is to fight for Equal Marriage through legal proceedings.
One couple behind the administrative petition and legal proceedings is Dustin and Ray, who have been together for 7 years. They could not wait any longer for Taiwan to legalise Equal Marriage, so in 2012 the couple used all their savings to fly to Canada, where they were married. Back in Taiwan, the couple say, “The marriage certificate issued by the Canadian authorities is merely a piece of paper!” Ray was once admitted to hospital due to a serious illness, and the hospital demanded 24-hour care by a family member. This family member could not be Dustin under the hospital’s regulations, even though the doctors and the nurses knew the couple had already married each other in Canada. The biggest shock of all was when none of Ray’s family could be at her bedside, the hospital asked Dustin to hire a carer instead of allowing her to act as Ray’s carer. After this ordeal, the couple came to the realisation that without Equal Marriage in the country, no matter how strong their relationship is, it could easily be broken by the law.
Jennifer Lu and Ling Chen had both been LGBT rights activists and fought side by side for many years. They have known each other for six years and through life’s twists and turns, they fell in love and decided to set up home together. Ling Chen said she and Jennifer had long been like a married couple. They seek no one’s approval and nothing can stop them. They are here today to demand the country’s law recognise them as a family like other families in society. Ling Chen believes it to be homosexual people’s right to marry. Not one religion or its teaching should stop this right. The country needs to recognise same-sex marriages.
As a gesture of support for Equal Marriage, Cube and Candy both shaved their heads last summer and spent over 50 days walking around the whole of Taiwan. During their journey, they saw the diversity of all kinds of families, which made them more determined to get married. Candy said she comes from a very complicated family. Growing up, she moved from one city to another. Wanting a home to call her own, Candy met and fell in love with Cube last year. Although the only stories one ever hears about are those where a man loves a woman and they get married, have children, the couple believe they can create their own diverse family.
TAPCPR Executive Officer and Chair of Equal Marriage Lawyers, Victoria HSU says all the countries in the world that recognise Equal Marriage today achieved this through legislation and/or judicial review, both of which benefit each other. The Equal Marriage draft amendment to the Civil Code proposed by TAPCPR has been ignored by the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee. The Chair of this Committee has deliberately kept the draft out of all legislation sessions. However, we can no longer afford to wait for Equality to happen, thus, TAPCPR organised the event where many same-sex couples come to the Household Registration Office together to register their marriages. The aim is to let the general public know same-sex couples exist in all corners of our society and they have not only the desire, but also the need to be married. Even though the same-sex couples today were not able to register their marriages, the fact so many marriages were refused legal recognition by the authorities clearly shows how unjust and ridiculous it is to deny same-sex couples Equal Marriage. All the legal cases following this event will further gather momentum in our fight to challenge the existing justice system and demand change.
Today, 30 same-sex couples along with the Equal Marriage Lawyers declare that the right to marriage is a basic human right protected by the Constitution. Without adequate reason, the country cannot and should not deprive same-sex couples of this right. The ultimate goal of the legal proceedings is for the Justices of the Constitutional Court to rule whether such discrimination based on sexual orientation is indeed against the Constitution and to provide us with an explanation.