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Taiwan Call For Same Sex Unions

in TAIWAN (CHINESE TAIPEI), 12/09/2011

Ahead of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, a family-centric holiday which falls on Monday this year, several gay rights advocates yesterday called for legislation to legally recognize non-conjugal cohabitation among gay couples.

A survey conducted by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, the results of which were released at a news conference yesterday, showed that more than 30 percent of heterosexual couples, 40 percent of gays and 60 percent of lesbians have cohabited with their partners.

When asked why they chose to live with their partners without getting married, both gay and heterosexual respondents cited wanting to “establish a closer relationship with partners” and wanting to “have someone to look after each other” as the top two reasons.

However, for 17.7 percent of gay couples and 20.7 percent of lesbian couples who have cohabited, “current laws do not allow legal reunion” is the third most important reason, the survey found.

“Based on the survey results and based on my own observation, the cohabitation of gay couples is a social phenomenon that has long existed,” said Chang Chuan-fen, a gay rights advocate and writer. “The government has no reason to continue delaying legislation” for these groups.

Although the alliance’s ultimate goal is the legalization of same-sex marriage, the group said that, taken into consideration the current state of society, legally recognizing cohabitation should be the first step toward to legalizing same-sex marriage.

Allen Li (李瑞中), a sociologist and a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of European and American Studies, said that without legally recognized relationships, gay partners would be unable to enjoy the same rights as legally married couples, such as signing agreements for medical care for their partner, and being eligible for social welfare programs and welfare pensions reserved for married couples, no matter how long they have lived together.

“Legally recognizing civil partnerships would help protect the rights of cohabiting couples and eliminate discrimination against couples in cohabitation,” Li said. “After all, gay or heterosexual couples who choose to cohabit pay taxes, serve their military duty and fulfill their other duties as citizens of this country, just like everyone else.”

More than 200 lawyers – since it was Attorney’s Day yesterday – signed a petition showing their support for legal recognition of cohabitation.
 

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