Taiwan Legal Update: Marriage Equality and Basic Residential Earthquake Insurance

Taiwan Legal Update: Marriage Equality and Basic Residential Earthquake Insurance

Taiwan’s Parliament Becomes The First in Asia to Legalise Same-Sex Marriage

In 2017 the Chief Justice of the Court published Interpretation No. 748. It decided that same-sex couples have the legal right to marry, a constitutional right not guaranteed under the law. Thus, the Court called upon competent authorities to amend the law within two years.

The initial constitutional court hearing was fraught with controversy which pressured the government into holding a series of referendums.  The referendum results showed that a majority of voters in Taiwan rejected legalising same-sex marriage, preferring conservative “pro-family’ groups.

The government expressed that the referendum results would not affect the changes required by the court ruling.  They also expressed the need to reach consensus. Thus, instead of amending the definition of marriage in the Civil Code, they created a special law for same-sex marriage.

On May 17th, the Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of the “Interpretation of the act No 748 on the interpretation of the draft law”, making Taiwan the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage.  With support from the DPP, the government’s bill passed by 66 votes to 27.


The new relevant provisions are as follows:

  Division Court Interpretation No. 748 Interpretation Act
Relationship registration Marriage Registration
Minimum age 18
Property system Applicable civil law husband and wife property system
Invalid relationship and cancellation Applicable civil law regulations
Relationship cancellation method Consensus, judgment, mediation or settlement
Have to adopt Got to adopt
Can you be the guardian of the other party?
Cohabitation obligations and support obligations
Daily housework Mutual agent
Heritage inheritance Mutual heirs
Other legal rights and obligations Principle of use
Dispute Resolution Applicable family event law
Date of implementation 108.5.24

Out of the three bills debated by lawmakers, the most progressive passed. The law allows same-sex couples to apply for marriage registration at The Household Administration and offers limited adoption rights. The other bills, submitted by conservative legislators, were rejected based on semantics.  They expressed concerns about the use of the word “marriage” and deemed phrasing such as “same-sex family relationships” or ‘same-sex unions” more fitting.

Ahead of the controversial vote, Chief coordinator of rights group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan told Reuters news agency that the government’s bill was already their “bottom line” and any further “compromise” will not be accepted.

President Tsai Ing-wen is expected to pass it into law on May 24, 2019. She thanked the legislators and the relevant administrative departments, urging people to “let go of their differences”.  A sentiment echoed by the Ministry of Justice who hope that people from “all walks of life will be able to accommodate each other, respect differences and maintain a peaceful and progressive country and society. ”

Many, including Ms. Tsai, have taken to social media to celebrate marriage equality. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, expressed his hopes that this “tremendous victory for LGBT rights” will contribute to a movement across Asia to “ensure equality for LGBT people”.

However, conservatives have been disappointed with this result.  Tseng Hsien-yin, from the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, told AFP News Agency the vote “trampled on Taiwanese people’s expectations” and disregarded the referendum.


The Financial Security Council Reiterates the Importance of Basic Insurance ”

Residential Earthquake Insurance is not compulsory in Taiwan. However, Residential Fire Insurance policies automatically include protection lasting one year.  The insured amount under the residential earthquake insurance program shall be computed based on the replacement cost, which is limited to NT$1.5 million per dwelling. Additional payments to cover the cost of temporary accommodation in the event of the total destruction of the insured dwelling shall be limited to NT$200,000 per dwelling.


At the time of the 921- earthquake, residential insurance coverage rate in Taiwan was at 0.2%. Insurance claims were equally low. The Basic Insurance System for Residential Earthquakes has been operational since April 1, 1991. By March, the insurance coverage rate was at 34.77%. Insurance coverage increased significantly, encouraging the public to examine earthquake risk awareness. However, there are still many uninsured homeowners despite recommendations for uninsured homeowners to get basic earthquake insurance to minimise property damage caused by earthquakes.


The Financial Security Council has said that basic insurance for residential earthquakes can protect against damaged caused by earthquakes, earthquakes, fires, explosions, and other dangerous accidents.


The amount of compensation and temporary accommodation expenses varies. The current is based on the replacement cost. The maximum amount of insurance is NT$1.5 million, and temporary accommodation expenses are 200,000 yuan. Based on the insurance amount of 1.5 million yuan, the annual premium for each policyholder is 1,350 yuan.


In response to the demand for diversification of earthquake insurance products, property and casualty insurance companies expand earthquake insurance (real estate increased insurance, movable property separately agreed). Excess earthquake insurance and light earthquake insurance are also available for the public.


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