JURIST Guest Columnist Philippe LeDoux, International Law Fellow in the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, discusses the pressing deadline for Taiwan’s parliament to amend the law to allow same-sex marriage
The clock is ticking on the deadline set by the Constitutional Court of Taiwan to amend the law to allow same-sex couples to marry. On May 24, 2017, the court declared Taiwan’s existing marriage law unconstitutional on grounds of discrimination and gave parliament two years to amend it to include same-sex couples. If the government fails to act, the existing marriage provision in the civil code will be extended to same-sex couples starting May 24, 2019.
This ruling was hailed at the time as a ground-breaking step in Asia, paving the way for Taiwan to become the first place in the region to achieve marriage equality. But for activists in Taiwan, the road toward marriage equality has been strewn with obstacles.
With only a couple of months left until the end of the two-year period prescribed by the Constitutional Court, uncertainty remains as to what the government will do. Should the legislature enact the proposed bill into law? Yes.
To meet the requirements of Taiwan’s Constitution, as determined by the Constitutional Court, Taiwan’s lawmakers should pass the bill. Restricting the right to marry to marriages between a man and a woman is a violation of Article 7 (right to equality) and Article 22 (right to marriage) of Taiwan’s Constitution. Regardless of their personal views on this matter, legislators committed to upholding the Constitution cannot neglect the court’s ruling.