Highest court clears way for possible same-sex marriage legislation

25 May 17

TAIWAN

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Taiwan’s highest court has ruled that laws defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman are unconstitutional.

What does the change mean? The ruling sets the stage for Taiwan to possibly recognize same-sex marriage, though the court gave parliament two years to pass the necessary legislation to move into compliance with the ruling. Recognition of same-sex marriage could have immigration impacts, in particular for foreign employees in a same-sex relationship, but it is not clear at this point whether lawmakers will fully recognize same-sex marriage or attempt to comply with the ruling in a way that does not extend full marriage rights.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected: Same-sex couples in Taiwan.
  • Business impact: If it recognizes same-sex marriage, Taiwan could be an attractive option for foreign employees in same-sex marriages who are relocating to Asia.
  • Next steps: Taiwan’s parliament has been given two years to craft the amendments or new laws to comply with the ruling.

Background: Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled Wednesday that laws preventing same-sex marriage violated constitutional provisions guaranteeing equality and all other “freedoms and rights” that “are not detrimental to social order or public welfare.” The parliament, the Legislative Yuan, now has two years to comply with the ruling, though it is not clear what type of legislation will emerge. A bill to legalize same-sex marriage has stalled despite support from President Tsai Ing-wen. The court said that if parliament has not taken action in two years, same-sex couples would be able to register based on the ruling.

BAL Analysis: BAL is watching progress on same-sex marriage legislation and will update clients on important developments.  

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