Taiwanese Constitutional Court Ruled in Favour of Same-Sex Marriage

Last week the Taiwanese courts ruled in favour of same-sex marriage. Or rather they declared that it was unconstitutional to only permit marriage between a man and a woman. This ruling has several ramifications, but one of them is not the immediate legalisation of same-sex marriage.

When the constitutional court in Taiwan declares that something is unconstitutional it gives the Taiwanese parliament two years to pass a new law implement its ruling. If the parliament does not pass a law within that time then whatever the Taiwanese court ruled originally just becomes legal. This means that, regarding this ruling, the parliament has two years to figure out what form of same-sex marriage it wants to bestow upon LGBT people in Taiwan.

There are many options available. The simplest is just to change the civil code so that all the pronouns and terms relating to “husband” and “wife” will just read “spouse” or something similar. However, as with western societies, Taiwan has a vocal minority who espouse the sanctity of marriage, and think that if their should be any law on same-sex marriage, it should make same-sex marriage separate it from mixed-sex marriage. That is to say, some form of civil partnership.

There are other issues at state as the parliament considers which law to pass. The first is which law will have the most support within the parliament. The second is how each law will play out with the electorate. The third is what other rights this law could confer to same-sex couples, such as adoption rights. At the moment the court ruled that same-sex marriage must be made lawful, but not whether same-sex couples should have adoption rights, or that the other rights of same-sex couples should be the same as heterosexual couples.

All this means that although the overall news is good, i.e. Taiwan is a lot closer to same-sex marriage this week than it was two weeks ago, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and uncertainties ahead. Hopefully the parliament will pass the simplest and most equal law that just changes the pronouns and terms to guarantee same-sex couples the same rights as others not mixed-sex marriages. However, we may have to wait possibly two years until LGBT couples in Taiwan have marriage rights.


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