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September 27, 2017

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DPP and MOI clash over transgender marriage

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislators Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) and Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) yesterday criticized the Interior Ministry for withdrawing a marriage registration after a sex change meant both members were legally recognized as female.

Cheng said that the couple, Wu Yi-ting and Wu Chih-yi, were born as men and both underwent transgender surgery. However, Cheng said, only Wu Yi-ting had officially changed sexes at a local household registration office before they registered as a married couple last October.

"When they registered to get married," Cheng said, "they were one man and one woman according to their identity cards. A few days after they registered, Wu Chih-yi also went to a local household registration office to officially change sexes.

"However, the local household registration office asked the Taipei City Government whether the marriage was still legal and the Interior Ministry finally ruled that both were women when they registered for marriage, which is against the Civil Code. Therefore, the ministry withdrew the marriage registration."

Wu Yi-ting said that she and her partner do not understand why the Interior Ministry can withdraw their legally approved marriage registration.

"It seems like the government considers gender more important than marriage and family. We are hurt by the fact that the government does not seem to value the promises we made to each other," said Wu Yi-ting.

Both of the DPP lawmakers demanded the Interior Ministry provide an explanation of its actions, including which laws the ministry referred to before making its decision to withdraw the marriage registration.

An official from the Interior Ministry said that it referred to an explanation of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) that a marriage is between a man and a woman.

Hu Mei-chin, from the MOJ, said that even though marriage is between a man and a woman, it is still up to the Interior Ministry to decide if a marriage is based on the officially recognized genders of a couple when they marry or when a member changes sex.

Yu said that everyone should have the right and the opportunity to establish a family regardless of sexual identity or orientation.

"No families should be discriminated against because of their (members') sexual orientation. The government keeps emphasizing that Taiwan is a country based on human rights, so the laws should be revised in order to better protect the rights of people with different sexual identities," said Yu.

Supports from the Public

Hsu Hsiu-wen of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights yesterday said that the Interior Ministry's decision violates the civil rights of those with different sexual orientations. The case itself also highlights that the nation's current system is not friendly or respectful to all of its citizens.

"The organization will propose an amendment to the Civil Code this September based on the ideas of equal-right marriage, civil unions, and broadening the definition of 'family members,'" said Hsu.

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