Taiwan gay couple drop marriage case after death threats

TAIPEI (AFP) - A Taiwanese gay couple said today they have decided to withdraw a controversial case against the government for refusing to register their marriage.

Chen Ching-hsueh and his partner Kao Chih-wei filed a complaint with the Taipei Administrative Court in 2011 against a government agency that turned them away when they tried to register their marriage.

Explaining their decision, Chen said he had "lost his faith in the judiciary" after the court failed to either make its own decision or to pass the case on to the Grand Justices, the island's top judicial body.

"We want to maintain our dignity and this is our only choice. We may be small and unable to change the judicial system, but at least we can show courage by being ourselves," Chen said.

Chen said earlier this month that he had received death threats and offensive comments on his Facebook page, including one Facebook message telling him his parents would die, which had prompted him to consider withdrawing the case.

Rights groups downplayed the impact of the decision to give up the case, which had been described as a potential milestone that could pave the way for Taiwan to become the first society in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.

"We believe that gay marriage rights is the trend and more couples will come forward to fight for their rights," said Shawn Wu, secretary-general of Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy.

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 in Taiwan to push for legalising same-sex marriage as the island marked its 10th annual Gay Pride event.

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