Gay couple become first in Taiwan to adopt after legal battle – but victory is bittersweet

Stock photo of a baby.

A married gay couple has become the first in Taiwan to adopt a child together – but their legal victory hasn’t been extended to other couples like them.

Husbands Wang Chen-wei and Chen Chun-ju made history as they signed adoption papers on Thursday (13 January), marking the end of a long legal fight for their family.

Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalise marriage equality in 2019, pushing the law through despite 72 per cent of the country voting against the change in a referendum.

However LGBT+ adoption lags behind. Under current law, it is only possible for a person in a same-sex relationship to adopt their partner’s biological child. 

Wang was able to adopt a child as a single man, postponing his wedding to Chen to ensure the process went smoothly. Under the current adoption law they could not adopt as a couple, and after the wedding Chen could not adopt his husband’s child.

However, in December 2021 a family court in Kaohsiung city overruled this and said that Wang’s child, nicknamed Joujou, could also be adopted by his 34-year-old husband.

The ruling is specific to the family and does not mark the legalisation of same-sex adoption across the country, only applying to their case.

After Chen became Joujou’s legal father, Wang told press, per The Guardian: “I have everything now. I am married and just like heterosexual couples, we can have our own children.

“But we were born to have and enjoy all of this, we are not a charity case. We shouldn’t have had to fight for it.”

Wang said after the December court ruling: “I am happy that my spouse is also legally recognised as the father of our child… but I can’t feel all that happy without amending the law,” according to AFP. 

“It’s really absurd that same-sex people can adopt a child when they are single but they can’t after they get married.”

Jennifer Lu, executive director of the LGBT+ rights group Taiwan Equality Campaign, said at the time: “We hope the rulings serve as a reminder to government officials and lawmakers that the current unfair legal conditions need to be changed.”

A bill which would allow for same-sex couples to adopt has been put forward by legislator Fan Yun. However, it has been stalled in the country’s parliament for over a year.