Constitutional Court heard debate on same-sex marriage

Taiwan’s Constitutional Court today heard a case brought by LGBT activist Chi Chia-wei and Taipei City Government on whether the Article 972 of the Civil Code, which states marriage as between “the male and the female parties,” is unconstitutional.

ROC Constitution, Article 7: All citizens of the Republic of China, irrespective of sex, religion, race, class, or party affiliation, shall be equal before the law.

The high court heard oral arguments from attorneys representing the petitioners as well as from the justice minister, representative from the interior ministry, and representative from the Chi’s local household registration office. Six expert witnesses, all constitutional law experts, were also selected by the 14-member court to offer their opinions on the case (one of the 15 justices recused himself). The petitioners believe that same-sex marriage should be included in the Civil Code, while the justice ministry believes that a separate law for civil partnership is more appropriate until further consensus among Taiwanese people on the issue is reached.

Legislative Yuan is currently considering a bill to amend the Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage. The ruling DPP government and President Tsai Ing-wen have expressed support for legalizing same-sex marriage in the past, but have become reluctant after facing opposition from conservative and religious groups.

The court is due to release its ruling in two months.

The full court proceeding was broadcast online (in Chinese). Read the transcript.

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