Singapore voids marriage after husband's sex change: Report

When the unidentified couple tried to buy a government-built apartment, they had to inform the authorities.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singapore has voided the marriage of a couple after the husband underwent a sex change, making their partnership a same-sex union that contravened the city-state's laws, a report said Tuesday.

The couple married as man and woman in 2015 but the husband underwent a sex change operation and updated his national identity card to read "female", the Straits Times newspaper reported.

But when the unidentified couple tried to buy a government-built apartment, they had to inform the authorities.

Married couples receive state grants for first-time purchases of government apartments.

The marriage was voided several months later, making them ineligible to buy the apartment they wanted, the paper said.

Singapore's Registry of Marriages said it would not give details on individual cases but cited the country's laws which state marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

"At the point of marriage, a couple must be man and woman, and must want to be and want to remain as man and woman in the marriage," it said in a statement.

Despite calls for change, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said the country is not yet ready for same-sex marriage since society is still conservative.

Singapore maintains legislation dating back to British colonial rule making sex between men a criminal act although it does not actively enforce the law.

Jean Chong, who co-founded Sayoni, a Singapore-based lesbian advocacy group, told AFP that "policies need to catch up with the realities of society".

"Families come in all shapes and sizes and of course while people get married as man and woman, there are those who transition along the way, so does this mean their marriage is no longer valid?"

Taiwan's top court ruled in favour of gay marriage in May, paving the way for the island to become the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex unions.

Taiwan first in Asia to legalise same sex unions

  • A top Taiwan court ruled in favour of gay marriage, a landmark decision that paves the way for the island to become the first place in Asia to legalise same sex unions.
  • The constitutional court said Taiwan's current Civil Code, which stipulates an agreement to marry can only be made between a man and a woman, "violated" the constitution's guarantees of freedom of marriage and people's equality.
  • A panel of 14 grand justices made the ruling - a majority of 10 was needed. Only two judges dissented.
  • If parliament does not make the change within two years, the court said same-sex couples could register to marry regardless, based on its interpretation.
  • The push for equal marriage rights has gathered momentum on the island with hundreds of thousands rallying in support.
  • But there has also been anger among conservative groups, who have staged mass protests against any change in the law.
  • The court ruled that the decision to allow gay marriage would contribute to social stability and protect "human dignity".
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