Christian Groups Inch Closer To Getting Anti-Marriage Equality Referendum In Taiwan

Taiwan has been favored to be the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Christian groups have taken the first steps in placing anti-marriage equality referenda on the ballot in Taiwan. On Tuesday, Taiwan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) approved three different proposals for review, two on same-sex marriage and one on LGBT-inclusive sex education.

Organizers said they’ve received more than 3,000 signatures, far more than the 1,879 that must be verified for the process to continue. The questions must now successfully gain signatures from 281,745 voters, or 1.5% of the electorate, to be formally placed on the ballot.

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One question asks if marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman, while another asks if voters approve of “the rights of two people of the same gender to build a permanent life together” via some institution other than matrimony. A last question asks if same-sex sex education is appropriate for elementary and junior high school students, as is stipulated in the 2004 Gender Equity Education Act.

The referenda were brought forward by the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, which opposes marriage equality and instead is pushing for limited rights to same-sex couples. In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court, issued a landmark ruling requiring the Legislative Yuan to pass marriage equality legislation within 16 months. The proposed referenda are a wrench in the works for supporters.

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Tuesday night, gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei and the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) protested the decision at the Election Commission offices.

While 71% of Taiwanese people support marriage equality, LGBT rights advocate Victoria Hsu worries the proposals will garner enough support to get on the ballot.

“If they are going to put this to a referendum, we have got to win,” she told Focus Taiwan.

Jeff Taylor is a North Carolina-based journalist who writes for LGBTQ Nation, Q Notes and other outlets.
@jefftaylorhuman