Taiwan will hold a referendum on whether its civil law should recognize same-sex marriage next month.
Two Taiwanese officials announced yesterday that the country will vote on whether civil law should recognize same-sex couples’ right to a permanent union.
The date for the referendum is set for November 24, the same day as Taiwan’s mayoral and magisterial elections.
The move to vote on marriage equality emerges after the constitutional court declared in May 2019 that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry. The court gave legislators a two-year deadline to implement same-sex marriage. However, a group of anti-same-sex marriage campaigners filed a petition in August for Taiwanese law to specify that the scope of marriage should be limited to a bond between a man and a woman.
David Tseng, the chairman of the Coalition for the Happiness of our Next Generation, a group opposed to marriage equality has said that same-sex marriage legislation would “entirely affect Taiwan’s moral principles and family values”.
The referendum has ultimately been seen as discriminatory by LGBT+ rights campaigners in Taipei. In September, campaigners for same-sex marriage filed a counter-petition in order for a special law to be implemented to protect same-sex couples’ right to a permanent union.
The Central Election Commission is expected to respond to the counter-petition later this month. If the counter-petition is accepted, the Taiwanese people may answer two separate questions on marriage equality on polling day: one on whether the scope of marriage should be limited to a bond between a man and a woman, and another on whether a special law is needed to protect same-sex couples’ right to a permanent union.
Jennifer Lu, the coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan spoke about the urgency to campaign for LGBT+ rights:
“As Taiwanese, we feel sorry but we don’t have time and room for disappointment”.
As it stands, Taiwan’s Civil Code states that “An agreement to marry shall be made by the male and the female parties in their own accord.”
Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen’s promised marriage equality during the 2016 election campaign but has yet to act on this promise. LGBT+ rights remain a divisive issue in Taiwanese discourse.
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