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Allow equal marriage in Taiwan or risk ‘political catastrophe’ experts warn

Allow equal marriage in Taiwan or risk ‘political catastrophe’ experts warn

Anti-LGBTI rally in Taiwan, thousands of people holding white signs in Mandarin standing outside in a public square

Constitutional law experts in Taiwan have warned the government and parliament must enact equal marriage or risk ‘political catastrophe’.

By the end of next month, lawmakers are expected to introduce legislation to comply with a court ruling that Taiwan’s Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex marriage.

It comes after a devastating referendum loss in November 2018. Taiwan voters opted for a separate law to legalize same-sex unions rather than to change the Civil Code.

Following the win, conservative groups have been lobbying lawmakers to enact a ‘cohabitation law’ to afford same-sex couples the same rights as marriage.

But, in a joint statement on Monday (28 January), nine constitutional scholars warned this would cause a ‘political catastrophe’. The academics represent some of country’s leading law schools.

They said anything short of equal marriage would be unconstitutional.

November’s referendum results ‘cannot touch’ the 2017 court ruling, the experts warned.

Taiwan’s highest court in May 2017 ruled that failing to recognize same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and gave a two-year deadline to legislate.

If parliament fails to pass a law, same-sex couples will be able to get married by default.

‘Inferior’

Cohabitation or partnership laws would be ‘inferior’, the experts wrote in the Apple Daily.

Taiwan’s parliament must pass legislation using the word marriage, even if they do not alter the Civil Code.

‘The rights and obligations of the special law should be the same as those stipulated in the Civil Code’ the experts said.

Importantly, the scholars also criticized anti-LGBTI groups for campaigning against the constitutional court decision during the referendum last year.

They said the groups ‘maliciously distorted’ the court’s ruling affording same-sex couples equal rights.

Activists last month urged Taiwan’s new prime minister to implement marriage equality through parliament.

‘The new law should still be “marriage” according to the requirements of the Constitutional Court’ Joyce Teng of the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan told Gay Star News.

‘We urged the new Premier to propose a new marriage bill as soon as possible’ she said.

People often heral it as a beacon of liberalism in Asia. It is widely renowned as the ‘best place to be LGBTI’ in Asia. It holds the region’s largest LGBTI pride parade.

But, Thailand is now looking to legislate same-sex partnerships. It may, therefore, become the first country in the region to legalize same-sex unions.