High court rules same-sex couples from countries where marriage equality is illegal can wed in Taiwan

A foreign resident in Taiwan displays a rainbow flag at Taipei 2020 LGBT+ Pride

A high court has ruled that LGBT+ foreigners from countries where marriage equality is illegal will now be able wed their same-sex partners in Taiwan.

In May 2019, Taiwan became the first nation in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, causing celebration across the globe.

That vote came two years after Taiwan’s top court ruled that defining marriage as being between only a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

However, some in the LGBT+ community were left still unable to marry in Taiwan because of a legal loophole, which was discovered when Taiwanese activist Chi Chia-wei tried to marry his partner, who is from Malaysia.

Until this week, a person who lived in Taiwan but was from a country where same-sex marriage is not legal was prohibited from marrying a partner of the same gender, according to Article 46 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements which states that “the formation of a marriage is governed by the national law of each party”.

Last year, human rights groups in the country estimated that the flaw in the legislation affected around 1,000 couples.

But on Thursday (4 March), the Taipei High Administrative Court overturned the rule, according to the Taipei Times.

The court cited Article 8 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements, stating that foreign laws should not be applied if they interfere with “the public order or boni mores [good morals]” of Taiwan.

Unfortunately, despite the ruling, Chia-wei is still unable to marry his partner, who must provide a certificate proving that he is single.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the partner’s fear of legal consequences in his home country, he has not been able to apply for one yet.

Amendments to the wording Article 46 have been proposed, to explicitly show that all same-sex marriages should be recognised, as long as one partner is a citizen in Taiwan.