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MOFA mulls international rules for same-sex spouses of diplomats

in TAIWAN (CHINESE TAIPEI), 27/07/2011

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it is still considering worldwide practices in diplomatically treating gay or lesbian foreign representatives and diplomats stationed in Taiwan.

But currently according to the country's law, foreign diplomats spouses are not entitled to full diplomatic privileges, said MOFA spokesman James Chang yesterday during a new briefing.

“The ministry will examine how other countries handle such situations,” said Chang yesterday.

Chang's comment came as a response to a local media report yesterday in which quoted a ruling Kuomintang's (KMT) lawmaker to urge MOFA to relax related regulations and give foreign diplomats' legal same-sex spouses the equal diplomatic privilege enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses.

There were reportedly numerous complaints lodged by homosexual foreign representatives in Taiwan over the past few years. The report said gay marriage is not uncommon among foreign diplomats in Taiwan.

Many of their same-sex spouses were not granted diplomatic visas since Taiwan does not recognize the legitimacy of same-sex marriage.

They were given travel visas instead and therefore they had to leave the country every time the visa expired which caused inconvenience, the report said.

The same-sex spouse of the diplomat in question was also issued an Alien Residence Certificate (ARC) - - an ID card for foreign residents in Taiwan — and not a diplomatic ID, the newspaper reported.

Therefore, these spouses could not enjoy full diplomatic privileges including diplomatic immunity, tax-exemption, among others, the report said.

  KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang said MOFA should be more flexible and more respectful on the issue since there are dozens of countries around the world have begun allowing same-sex couples to marry nationwide.

  Countries include Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden and parts of the United States, have already recognized same-sex marriage.

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