Taiwan referendum shoots down same-sex marriage
LGBT activists in one of the most progressive Asian countries were dealt a blow when the Taiwan referendum voted down a proposal to make same-sex marriage part of the Civil Code.
Taiwanese voters had voted on Sunday to reject the proposal, which would have made Taiwan the first country in Asia to allow same-sex couples have child custody and get insurance benefits.
Taiwan referendum: Opposition to marriage equality
The referendum had been pushed by Christian groups– which make up about five percent of Taiwan’s population– and advocates of the traditional Chinese family structure.
Ironically, this referendum contradicts a May 2017 constitutional court ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and justices urged lawmakers to make same-sex marriage legal within two years.
What’s more, while the referendum can be considered as an advisory, lawmakers need to be mindful of public opinion as many of them are running for re-election in 2020.
“The referendum is a general survey, it doesn’t have very strong legal implications,” said Shiau Hong-chi, a professor of gender studies and communications management at Shih-Hsin University in Taiwan.
“One way or another it has to go back to the court.”
Last Saturday, voters approved a separate measure for a “different process” to protect same-sex unions that’s viewed as an alternative to using the civil code– possibly through new legislation.
A third initiative was also approved that schools avoid teaching LGBT “education.”
Taiwan referendum: Before and against equality
The referendum showed that two proposals given by groups against same-sex marriage received higher support than the one favoring marriage equality.
Specifically, these three proposals were put to the people below:
Case No. 10: “Do you agree that marriage defined in The Civil Code should be restricted to the union between one man and one woman?”
Case No. 12: “Do you agree to the protection of the rights of same-sex couples in co-habitation on a permanent basis in ways other than changing of the Civil Code?”
Case No. 14: “Do you agree to the protection of same-sex marital rights with marriage as defined in the Civil Code?”
Case No. 10 had the most support with 70.12 percent of voters in favor, but also has the most potential to deny reforms in the Civil Code.
Taiwan referendum: Advocates continue fight
Amnesty International aired their disappointment over the results. Amnesty’s Taiwan-based acting director Annie Huang said: “This result is a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan.”
“However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail.”
LGBT groups favoring marriage equality during the referendum had argued that separate legislation in this case is a form of discrimination.
Huang said that, “The result must not be used as an excuse to further undermine the rights of LGBTI people.”
“The Taiwanese government needs to step up and take all necessary measures to deliver equality and dignity for all, regardless of who people love,” she added.