The Taipei District Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a man whose same-sex partner died before gay marriage was officially legalized in Taiwan in May, entitling him to receive a funeral subsidy to which only married heterosexual couples were then entitled.
Nelson Hu (胡勝翔), secretary-general of the Taiwan Gender Queer Rights Advocacy Alliance, was originally denied the subsidy by the Bureau of Labor Insurance last year.
Hu and Pan Shih-hsin (潘世新) registered their partnership at a New Taipei City household registration office on June 20, 2017, giving Hu the right to sign medical consent forms for his partner, the court said.
Pan died of a rare form of hemangioma in November that year.
Hu in January last year applied with the bureau for the funeral subsidy. The application was rejected on the grounds that Pan and Hu were not legally married.
Only legally married couples were entitled to the benefit, the bureau said.
Hu appealed the case several times with the bureau, but was repeatedly denied until he took the case to court.
Taiwan did not officially legalize same-sex marriage until May 17 after most lawmakers of the Democratic Progressive Party and a few from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) voted to pass the Executive Yuan-sponsored Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748 (司法院釋字第748號解釋施行法).
The act gives same-sex couples the right to get married and entitles them to all the rights originally reserved for married heterosexual couples.
The law took effect on May 24.
The court said that Hu and Pan were a de facto legally married couple, even though they registered their partnership before the act took effect.
As Pan’s legal partner, Hu was thus entitled to claim the funeral subsidy from the bureau, it said.
The ruling can still be appealed, but the bureau on Wednesday told reporters that it would not and would go ahead and issue the subsidy to Hu.
Hu said that he filed the lawsuit not for the subsidy, but to fight for the legal rights of all registered same-sex partners, who should enjoy the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.