Taiwan Constitutional Court Rules for Marriage Equality

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of China (Taiwan) voted overwhelmingly that same-sex couples are entitled to marry, and that anti-gay discrimination violates the Republic’s Constitution. The May 24 ruling was greeted with relative equanimity by legislative leaders, who were ordered by the court to approve legislation to implement this decision by May 24, 2019. Otherwise, the court said, the decision would go into effect automatically, and same-sex couples would be entitled to marry. Only two justices dissented, and one abstained. Press reports we saw differed as to whether the court has 14 or 15 members. Either way, the majority was overwhelming.

This was the first ruling by an Asian high court to accept marriage equality as a constitutional right, although there might be political and ideological arguments about its significance in relation to the rest of Asia due to the unusual status of Taiwan. The Peoples’ Republic of China (Mainland China) considers Taiwan to be part of its country that is just temporarily self-governing and most countries do not recognize it as an independent nation. However, there is no disputing that when this ruling goes into effect, Taiwan will be the first place where same-sex marriages can be performed in Asia with the imprimatur of legally-recognized status.

For the full story, access the June 2017 issue of LGBT Law Notes.