After hearing oral arguments on the case concerning same-sex marriage brought by activist Chi Chia-wei and Taipei City Government two months ago, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court today ruled that the marriage chapter of the Civil Code, which states marriage as between “the male and the female parties,” to be unconstitutional. (Read the Court’s English press release.)
In its Interpretation 748, the Court contends that Part IV Chapter II of the Civil Code on marriage violates ROC Constitution Article 22, protecting people the freedom of marriage, and Article 7, stating all ROC citizens to be equal. The Court rules that relevant authorities must amend or enact laws within two years to protect the right of marriage for same-sex couples. However, the Court did not specify whether the parliament should amend the Civil Code, add additional articles allowing same-sex marriage, or to create a separate law allowing same-sex civil union.
The Court further rules that should the parliament failed to amend or enact laws legalizing same-sex marriage within two years, same-sex couples will be able to marry by going through the current marriage registration process at any household registration office. Taiwan will be the first country in Asia to allow same-sex marriage.
Creation of a permanent union of intimate and exclusive nature for the committed purpose of managing a life together by two persons of the same sex will not affect the application of the Marriage Chapter to the union of two persons of the opposite sex.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and the ruling DPP government have expressed support for legalizing same-sex marriage in the past, but have become reluctant after facing opposition from conservative and religious groups. The Presidential Office released a statement directing the government to comply with the ruling.
Of the fifteen Justices of the Constitutional Court, led by Chief Justice and President of the Judicial Yuan Hsu Tzong-li 許宗力, one recused himself, while two of the remaining fourteen Justices filed dissenting opinions.