At least 1,500 people came out in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei on Tuesday (14 May).
It comes as parliament deliberates three competing bills affording same-sex couples varying marriage rights.
Demonstrators on Tuesday called on parliament to enact a government-drafted bill which gives nearly-equal rights to same-sex couples.
Two other bills — slammed as homophobic, discriminatory, and unconstitutional — would not protect the rights of same-sex relationships and LGBTI families, said Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan Chief Coordinator Jennifer Lu.
‘Don’t let marriage in Taiwan become “one country, two systems”’ she urged.
Parliament is rushing to make same-sex marriage lawful ahead of a 24 May court deadline. Lawmakers will vote on legislation on Friday.
In 2017, Taiwan’s highest court ruled the Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex marriages. It gave lawmakers a two-year deadline to legislate.
But, the government failed to enact a bill and when referendum laws were altered last year, anti-LGBTI groups called for a public vote.
In a devastating loss for LGBTI people, Taiwan’s public opted to enact a separate marriage law rather than altering the country’s Civil Code.
Demonstrators on Tuesday said the government’s bill was a compromise between the court ruling and the referendum.
Although it is incomplete, activists said, the LGBTI community could accept the government’s bill.
President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday also encouraged lawmakers to get behind the bill.
Taiwan’s parliament is considering three separate marriage bills.
In February, Taiwan became the first government in Asia to draft a same-sex marriage bill and submit it to parliament.
Activists complained that the bill failed to offer genuine equality in line with the Constitutional Court ruling. For example, parenthood and adoption rights are not consistent with heterosexual marriages.
Many LGBTI couples, however, accepted the bill as a compromise after the devastating referendum results.
Since then, anti-LGBTI lawmakers have introduced two more bills to parliament.
In March, LGBTI families slammed an opposition party bill as ‘homophobic‘. It does not include terms such as ‘marriage’ or ’spouse’.
Last week, lawmakers and activists slammed a second bill as ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unconstitutional’.
It would allow relatives to launch a court appeal if they believe the marriage is ‘fake’.
Lawmaker for the New Power Party (NPP) Freddy Lim on Thursday warned that the two bills would contravene the 2017 court ruling.
He said same-sex couples could still register their marriage under the court ruling after 24 May.
This would cause further problems and more unfairness, he argued.