Taiwanese voters reject same-sex marriage in referendum

by WorldTribune Staff, November 25, 2018

Voters in Taiwan on Nov. 24 passed a referendum stating that marriage be restricted to one man and one woman.

Amnesty International: ‘This result is a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan.’ / AP

The vote was a setback to LGBT couples hoping the island nation would be the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage and to allow same-sex couples to share child custody and insurance benefits, The Associated Press reported.

Voters approved a separate measure calling for a “different process” to protect same-sex unions. It’s viewed as an alternative to using the civil code. A third initiative, also approved, asked that schools avoid teaching LGBT “education.”

The referendum is advisory only.

“The referendum is a general survey — it doesn’t have very strong legal implications,” said Shiau Hong-chi, 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.”

In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court instructed the nation’s legislators to make same-sex marriage legal within two years.

Opposition to same-sex marriage peaked after the court ruling as opponents held rallies and mobilized votes online, the AP report said.

Ruling party lawmakers backed by President Tsai Ing-wen had proposed legalizing same-sex marriage in late 2016, but put their ideas aside to await the court hearing.

Courts will still consider local marriage licensing offices in violation of the law by May 2019 if they refuse same-sex couples, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said last week.

Amnesty International told the government it needs to “deliver equality and dignity.”

“This result is a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan,” Amnesty’s Taiwan-based Acting Director Annie Huang said. “However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail.”

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