• Asia-Pacific

Taiwan court OKs same-sex marriage with Japanese

REUTERS / Tyrone Siu
Gay newlyweds walk on a giant rainbow flag at a pro same-sex marriage party after registering their marriage in Taipei, Taiwan May 24, 2019.

TAIPEI (Jiji Press) — The Taipei High Administrative Court on Thursday ordered local authorities to accept a marriage notification submitted by a Japanese-Taiwanese same-sex couple.

Following the court decision, the first same-sex marriage between Japanese and Taiwanese persons in Taiwan is expected to be formalized.

The couple, Eizaburo Ariyoshi, 42, and Lu Yin-jen, 34, who live in the southern Taiwan county of Pingtung, submitted a notification of their marriage in May last year, but the authorities rejected it, noting that such a marriage is not legally recognized in Ariyoshi’s home country, Japan.

In December, the couple filed a lawsuit seeking the revocation of the rejection. Thursday’s ruling said that deciding whom to marry is an important basic right guaranteed under Taiwan’s Constitution, adding that refusing to approve a marriage based on Japanese law constitutes unreasonable discriminatory treatment.

At a press conference following the ruling, Ariyoshi said, “I feel like there’s a light in my life, as I thought I wouldn’t be able to get married.”

Ken Suzuki, a professor of Meiji University in Tokyo who has been working for the rights of sexual minorities and supported the Japanese-Taiwanese couple in the lawsuit, expressed his hope that the latest ruling will stimulate discussion on legalizing same-sex marriage in Japan.

“The ruling can be said to have acknowledged inequality in Japanese law, so it should be taken seriously,” Suzuki said.

The Japanese-Taiwanese couple became the fourth international couple to win an administrative lawsuit over same-sex marriage in Taiwan. The latest ruling is highly likely to be finalized as no appeal has been made in the past three cases.

Taiwan became the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019, but its related law has a clause saying that Taiwanese can marry same-sex foreigners only if they are from countries where such a marriage is also legal.

As the clause stirred controversy over whether it conforms to Taiwan’s Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of marriage, a bill to scrap the clause was drawn up in January last year.