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May 27, 2019

20190524_First in Asia: Same-Sex Couples Celebrate Marriage Registration in Taiwan

On the two-year anniversary day of the Constitutional Court Interpretation No. 748, also a week after the passing of the Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretations No.748, same sex couples in Taiwan can finally enjoy the same legal rights to marriage. They can now register marital status and receive new ID cards indicating names of their spouses, just like their fellow straight citizens on the 24th of May, 2019.  Having been campaigning to amend the law since 2016, Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan (the Coalition), invited 20 same-sex couples on the first day of the effectiveness of the act to register their marriages at Xinyi District Household Registration Office. The Coalition sets up a happiness wall presenting 524 well-wishing messages collected from social media and prepares marriage application certificates signed by A-Mei, the Taiwan pop diva who has remained a strong advocate of marriage equality as witness. Today, blessed by people from across Taiwan, these newlyweds can begin a new chapter of their lives as their county progresses toward equality.  

Cynical Chick and LiYing Chien—the former a well-known cartoonist and the later a noted playwright—have been together since the end of last year. They are also one of the blessed couples who come to register their marriage today. Legalizing same-sex marriage allows Cynical Chick who has no surviving family to start her own family and this loving couple also seeks practical protection for their found soul mate. Chou Chun-Peng and Lin Meng-Huan (the former a theater actor and the later a theater playwright) have been together for 8 years. They became certain that they are each other’s significant other after 1124 referendum last year and thus proposed to get married. This May they threw a wedding party crowded with people from the theater circle and today they can make their commitment legal.

Marc and Shane met on their PE class during college and have been together for 12 years since then. At the beginning of 2018, after the successful marriage proposal on Tanya Chua’s concert, they started to share their happiness on social media. After marriage registration today, the ceremony will be held next month. For Marc and Shane, marriage means accompanying and being there for each other as they grow old together. Amber and Huan started BBDiary, their YouTube channel since the beginning of 2017. They have been together for three years now and today they also complete marriage registration. As the couple had their ceremony the year before, they also attended the first joint wedding for gay and straight couples last week. They deem marriage as the legal recognition of an intimate relationship and the bond does not form or break up on a whim.

Novelist Chen Xue and her partner Antonia Chen, also complete the marriage registration procedure today. The two held their wedding ceremony 10 years ago in Hualien and have been sharing their loving breakfast moments of their daily family life on social media. Because of their deep love for each other, they want to make a lifelong commitment to spend and share their lives together and grow old together. As Chen Xue points out “marriage is a union between two lovers. It is a free, independent and voluntary choice. Instead of being a binding institution, marriage is based on mutual consent and its beginning and conclusion cannot be forced. They only come from free will.” Ya-Ting and Mei-Yu had the first Taiwan Buddhist wedding presided by Shih Chao-hwei, a highly-respected Buddhist social activist, 7 years ago. This long-awaited day has finally come and their parents agreed to sign as witnesses on the certificate. They have built relationships with each other’s family for the past 7 years, but still are worried about not being able to be there for each other during crisis or emergency. Today, they can finally register as a married couple.    

In 1986, activist Chi Chia-wei alone came out on a press conference held in front of a McDonald’s. He was turned away at the court when he applied for civil marriage. 30 years later, Chi is also here with us today to give his blessing to the newlyweds. He has never given up his fight for LGBT rights. Before marriage equality comes to its wonderful fruition, LGBT community and activists have come a long hard way and some people did not make it to see this day. The fight for LGBT rights is still an unfinished business. As Jennifer Lu, the coordinator of the Coalition, expresses that she looks forward to seeing more LGBT people to come forward and initiate friendly conversations with people around them. Allowing the public to see LGBT people as who they are can help us to rise above our differences. People can come to understand that LGBT people are just like anyone else and they also desire happiness. Understanding leads to respect and acceptance and makes Taiwan a better place.