Conservative Christians have been taking to the streets to stop same-sex marriage in Taiwan – and they are getting desperate.
Taiwan is inching ever closer to becoming the first country in Asia to legalize equal marriage despite Christian groups warning it will destroy society as we know it.
The groups, such as the Protect the Family Alliance and the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, have good reasons to be desperate.
Winning the fight for equality
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) have both proposed amendments to the civil code to legalize same-sex marriage in Taiwan.
And the two draft amendments passed first readings at the Legislative Yuan on 8 November.
Now the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee will discuss the proposals. Then the Legislative Yuan will hold second and third readings in before marriage equality becomes law.
A total of 67 legislators, or 59.3% of the Legislative Yuan’s 113 seats, now support legalization. Moreover, 200 judges have signed a petition suggesting marriage equality would benefit the nation.
LGBTI advocates were frustrated for years in this process. But the legislature is now controlled by the DPP and is far more receptive to their arguments.
Opponents of equality, meanwhile, have found they are unable to get the same kind of traction they enjoyed with influential officials under the KMT, which previously played a large role in stalling legislation.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen will also see it as a victory. She promised to introduce marriage equality during her election campaign.
Opinion polls, meanwhile, show the majority favor legalization. In fact, there’s near universal support among the nation’s youth.
But there’s still a fight-back.
Opponents turned out in force in November 2013 – an event marred by human rights violations against LGBTIs and police inaction – and again in March 2014.
Now we’re seeing that protest repeated.
About 100 gathered outside the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei on Saturday, followed by a few thousand on Sunday.
Over the years, opponents of legalization have been consistently shrill in their warnings about the danger of marriage equality.
They claim the negative affects will include incest, bestiality, promiscuity, sexual liberation, threatened children, ‘brainwashing,’ the spread of AIDS, the watering down of the ‘bloodline,’ declining birthrates, and ultimately social chaos.
In recent months, opponents have also resorted to quoting long-discredited studies (for example one by Bell and Weinberg in the 1970s) ‘showing’ that gays are invariably promiscuous with as many as 1,000 sexual partners over a lifetime.
If we were to live up to those stats, we’d all have to start having sex at 16 and average over 15 partners a year until the ripe old age of 80.
Whatever the numbers, the aim of such propaganda is to dehumanize us.
They want to position homosexuals as abnormal, out of control, and ultimately as animalistic. In reality LGBTI people are just as tired as heterosexuals at the end of the day and just as committed to forming a normal family.
Opponents of equality are now also calling for a referendum to decide whether we should be allowed to marry.
It’s as if society, and not the individuals getting married, should decide the matter. If it came to this, I would argue the rest of us should have a say in whether intolerant people are allowed to marry, as their offspring are also more likely to be intolerant.
Opponents have also tried to make a link between homosexuality, legalization of same-sex unions, and crime. Presumably they aim to underscore the idea that same-sex marriage would destroy society.
They distributed a pamphlet at Sunday’s protest containing a number of such claims.
It warned the law would allow people to drug and rape your wife and daughter and be unpunished. They said it would empower gangsters who would be ‘exonerated’ for their crimes. People would be able to break into your home get away with it.
They even claimed it would allow sexual assault to go unpunished.
And, of course, lesbians or gay men would be able to sleep with your husband or wife with you unable to do a thing about it.
To make these claims suggests either desperation or religious ‘groupthink’ that is utterly disconnected from reality. Far from being concerned parents, they are sounding more like an end-of-days cult.
Of course, they insist they are merely exercising their right to ‘free speech’.
But it has turned into something much more nefarious. The pamphlet ascribes criminal behavior, or responsibility for it, to a visible minority. They then use these ludicrous claims of future crimes to justify denying that minority the fundamental right to form a family.
This is beyond free speech – this is hate speech.
I’m not arguing the state should ban groups and individuals from expressing such views (however horrible they are). But the entire argument against the legalization of same-sex unions is nothing more than a compendium of falsehoods, confabulation, and yes, hate.
They base these arguments on little more than pseudo-science and a narrow interpretation of religious text. And in case you are wondering which religion I am referring to, they distributed lyrics for Christian hymns along with the pamphlet on Sunday.
Given all this, I do think the state should not treat the two sides of the argument as if they were of equal weight. In fact, these family groups are not even interested in having an argument: theirs is a totalitarian view.
We’ve known for a long time that opponents to same-sex marriage in Taiwan don’t have a case. The horrid pamphlet they distributed on Sunday, and are likely to hand out in the coming weeks as they are planning more protests, is the proof of this.
Let’s use their own words against them.
J Michael Cole is a Taipei-based senior non-resident fellow with the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, and a research associate with the French Center for Research on Contemporary China.