Taiwan activist renews same-sex marriage bid after setback

TAIPEI (AFP) - A leading Taiwanese gay rights activist was turned away by a government agency on March 21 as he and his partner tried to register as married, following a failed attempt by another same-sex couple.

Mr Chief Day-way, dubbed the "gay rights godfather" for his dedication to gay rights protection for 30 years, and his partner were rejected by a household registration office in Taipei.

An official at the office told Mr Chief that only a man and a woman can by law register as a married couple.

The 55-year-old vowed to appeal to the city government and courts as part of efforts to legalise gay marriage on the island.

The campaign suffered a setback in January when Mr Chen Ching-hsueh and partner Kao Chih-wei dropped their appeal to an administrative court against a government agency which had rejected their marriage registration in 2011.

Mr Chen said he had "lost his faith in the judiciary" but added that death threats to him and his parents via Facebook had been among factors prompting him to abandon the appeal.

Mr Chief said the island's top judicial body should explain the legal rationale for the ban on gay marriage, after then-president Chen Shui-bian promised in 2004 to press for its legalisation.

Gay and lesbian groups in Taiwan, one of Asia's more liberal societies, have been urging the government for years to make same-sex unions legal.

Last year more than 50,000 gays and lesbians and their supporters marched to support the cause as the island marked its 10th annual Gay Pride event.

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