First public transgender marriage dispute in Taiwan

A Taiwanese transgender couple on Thursday demanded the government reverse what they said is an "illegal" decision to revoke their marriage status, in the latest of a series of same sex and transgender disputes on the island.

Abbygail Wu, 27, and her 29-year-old partner Jiyi Wu both had surgery in July last year to transform them from men to women and were married in October.

In order to receive 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.

"In the eyes of government officials, gender is far more important than the value of marriage and family," Jiyi told AFP.

In the first case of its kind in Taiwan, the couple, backed by legislator Cheng Li-chun, have called on the government to review the decision, claiming revoking their marriage certificate is "illegal".

But Taiwan's interior ministry defended the decision, insisting that marriage is legal only between a man and a woman -- regardless of whether the the individuals in the union were born with opposing genders or whether realignment surgery was involved.

The couple said they would fight a legal battle and plan to ask the island's top judicial body to explain why "the legalised marriage can be illegally revoked".

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 for the cause as the island marked its 10th annual Gay Pride event.