Taiwan: Authorities uphold first same-sex transgender marriage

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Authorities in Taiwan have agreed not to revoke the marriage status of a local transgender couple, in a move activists have called a “benchmark” ruling.

Taiwan’s Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday that the marriage status of Abbygail Wu, 27, and her 29-year-old partner Jiyi Wu should remain legal.

The couple both transitioned from male to female in July last year, and married in October. But Ji-yi chose not to register her new gender until this year. Shortly after, they received a letter from the Interior Ministry asking to cancel the marriage, questioning their genders.

However, the Interior Ministry have now said the couple were  “a man and a woman” in accordance with the law when the registration of their marriage took place. The government respects people’s right to change their gender, it added.

Upon learning they could stay married, the couple were ecstatic and kissed each other on the lips. Abbygail said she had thought the government would either drag its feet or simply cancel the marriage.

“The decision was a surprise. We thought we had had a 90-percent chance of losing the appeal”, she said.

Even though the Interior Ministry remained adamant that only a man and a woman can marry, Abbygail said that at the very least it is now recognising gender more openly.

She added: “It shows that government officials have admitted the existence of multigender marriage in society, different from the traditional concept.

“Marriage simply should not be limited to a man and a woman”.

The couple said they might also adopt a child in the future.

LGBT activist groups have called the move a “benchmark” ruling for more diverse forms of marriage going forward.

In March, a gay rights activist in Taiwan promised to appeal against the country’s ban on equal marriage, after being turned down while attempting to register to marry his partner.

In December last year, Nelson Chen and Kao Chih-wei also filed a lawsuit against the Taipei city government for rejecting their attempt to register their marriage.

Mr Chen had since said he received abusive messages via Facebook since filing the case, and voiced concern for his family and friends who had been targeted.

A poll released this week showed that 53% Taiwanese are for same-sex marriage, twice as many as a decade ago.