Is Marriage Void After Sex Change?
Our Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss and Suang Wijaya act for a couple whose marriage was deleted off the marriages registry in Singapore after one partner underwent sexual re-assignment surgery.
2. Background to the LGBT’s couple marriage
In 2015, the couple in this case, FK and BS applied to get married after having been together since 2007. During the application of marriage, FK’s gender was stated as “Male” in FK’s National Registration Identification Card (“NRIC”). While FK had not undergone sexual re-assignment and neither did FK change the gender on FK’s NRIC, FK had formally changed name by way of a deed pool.
A month prior to the couple’s solemnisation, officers from the Registry of Marriages (“ROM”) expressed concern over FK’s name. Following discussions between the officers of the ROM and FK, the officers made two requests. FK was asked to sign a Statutory Declaration declaring that FK would not undergo sexual re-assignment surgery before the date of the marriage, and FK was also asked to dress in a more masculine fashion on the date of the marriage. FK complied. The couple was officially married in October 2015.
In June 2016, FK underwent sexual re-assignment surgery. FK went on to update the particulars in NRIC.
In August 2016, FK updated the Housing and Development Board (“HDB”) as they were expecting to collect the keys to their four-room HDB flat. Upon realising that both partners were now officially female, the officer of HDB informed the couple that they could not collect the keys as they were not entitled to get married. When the officer was told that they had registered their marriage in Singapore, the officer said that she would get back to the couple. The couple was to wait for two weeks. But the matter dragged for the next two months.
In October 2016, the couple called the ROM and was told that an answer can be expected by the end of November 2016.
In February 2017, the ROM’s registrar informed the couple that the marriage was void. This would mean that the couple’s registration for marriage’s entry was completely removed from the State Marriage Register, as if the marriage did not happen at all.