Taiwan upholds first public transgender marriage

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwanese authorities have agreed to uphold the marriage status of a local transgender couple, reversing a previous official decision in a ruling activists said would help the bid to legalise same sex marriage.

In what was hailed as a "benchmark" ruling, Taiwan's Ministry of the Interior on Wednesday decided that the marriage status of Ms Abbygail Wu, 27, and her 29-year-old partner Ms Jiyi Wu remained legal.

The couple both had surgery in July last year to transform them from men to women and were married in October.

With a view to receiving a marriage certificate from the government, Jiyi registered with government authorities as a male - the "husband" of the couple - while Abbygail said she was female.

However, earlier this year, Jiyi applied to be granted legal status as a woman, prompting census authorities to revoke the marriage certificate, saying the union is only legal between a man and a woman.

"The decision was a surprise. We thought we had had a 90 per cent chance of losing the appeal," Abbygail said.

"It shows that government officials have admitted the existence of multigender marriage in society, different from the traditional concept."

Legislator Cheng Li-chun hailed the "benchmark" ruling, saying it would help push for an amendment to the civil law in September aimed at legalising same-sex marriage, a campaign which has been launched by gay and lesbian groups in Taiwan.

Last year, more than 50,000 gays and lesbians and their supporters marched for the cause as the island, one of Asia's more liberal societies, marked its 10th annual Gay Pride event.

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