The government of Kaohsiung, located in southwest Taiwan, began allowing same-sex couples to register their partnership at the city’s household registration offices yesterday, making this the first Taiwanese city to recognize same-sex partnership—although not in the legal sense.
According to the Taipei Times:
Kaohsiung Civil Affairs Bureau Director-General Tseng Tzu-wen (曾姿雯) said that in the spirit of respect and good will, the city would unblock the city’s household registration and conscription system to allow same-sex partnerships a place within the system.
The city’s move is symbolic rather than legal, as civil law stipulates that only a man and a woman can lawfully marry, she said, adding that the administrative recognition is to allow same-sex couples a degree of psychological comfort before any amendment to civil law, she said.
City household registration offices began accepting the registration of same-sex partnership for local residents on Wednesday.
Known as “sunshine registration”, no official certificates or documents recognizing the partnerships will be issued upon registration, which means the couples will have no right to each other’s inheritance or any legal status. Moreover, the partnership can be deregistered if the couple decides to break up.
If registered partners are willing to sign an agreement on collection of personal information, other public agencies, including medical facilities, the justice system and the police could access the city’s household registration system, which allows either partner to act when the legal representatives of the other party are absent, such as signing a consent form for emergency surgery in the absence of the patient’s relatives.
Gay rights groups in Taiwan have criticized the development, however, saying that the move is merely “making fun of” the LGBT community without having any substantial effect, and that the registration is ‘no different from putting info into the closet without anyone knowing about it’.
Currently, Taipei and Taoyuan allow same-sex couples to take part in mass “blessing” ceremonies, while governments of New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Kaosiung decline to allow such events on the grounds that their unions aren’t recognized by law.
So far, 18 countries have approved the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, while two others have regional or court-directed provisions allowing same-sex unions.
The Shibuya ward in Tokyo last month became the first place in Japan to recognize same-sex partnerships after passing an ordinance allowing certificates to be issued to same-sex couples.
By Tanto Chen
[Image Credit: -Marlith-]