The population of the island nation of Taiwan remains divided on the issue of same-sex marriage, with 37.8% of Taiwanese supporting equality and 56% opposing the measure. But marriage equality advocates are hopeful a decision to hold a constitutional review of same-sex marriage will be a positive step forward.
Last Friday, in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei, the Council of Grand Justices applied for a constitutional interpretation of the marriage law by the Bureau of Civil Affairs. The council also approved a live broadcast of the debate of marriage equality advocate Chi Chia-wei’s case.
Chi Chia-wei is probably one of the most stubborn gay activists in the world. In 1986, he spent five months in jail after petitioning the legislature to legalize same-sex marriage. He first applied for constitutional review of the same-sex marriage ban in 2000. In December 2014, Chia-wei filed a new application for a constitutional review of the nation’s marriage laws, his second time doing so in his 30-year campaign for the right to marry his partner.
“We believe that the justices’ willingness to review this issue is a step forward, because they could have chosen to keep shelving the case and ignoring it,” said Chien Chich-chiech, Secretary-General of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights.
Six of the seven justices appointed last year have expressed support for same-sex marriage during questioning at the Legislative Yuan (the Constitutional Court).
“The Legislative Yuan announced in December last year that a review of same-sex marriage legislation would start again in April, so the Judicial Yuan’s choice to hold hearings in March is extremely interesting, and we trust that it is not a coincidence,” said Chich-chiech, attributing the council’s decision to renewed social debate after the introduction of bills late last year.
Taiwan could become the first Asian nation to approve same-sex marriage.
“It is not impossible that the court will rule to uphold the constitutionality of the existing laws,” Chich-chiech said, “but we feel the probability of such a ruling is not great.”
December saw 30,000 people rally in Taipei in support of same-sex marriage.
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