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Days ahead of crucial vote, activists battle to save equal marriage in Taiwan

Days ahead of crucial vote, activists battle to save equal marriage in Taiwan

LGBTI volunteer activists in Taiwan (Photo: Facebook)

Activists in Taiwan are engaged in a final frantic push to protect LGBTI rights ahead of crucial referendums this week.

Taiwan residents will vote on whether the country’s Civil Code should recognize equal marriage on Saturday (24 November). Dismantling parts of the country’s LGBTI gender equity education is also on the ballot.

‘The key message is that every family deserves the same respect in Taiwan’ said Jennifer Lu, coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan.

‘Marriage equality and gender equity education are all about protecting and creating social harmony and respect in society’.

In 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court demanded the country recognize same-sex marriage. It gave lawmakers two years to legislate. They have so far failed to do so, however.

A recent change in referendum law allowed conservative campaigners to petition for a referendum on the issue. They want separate legislation to recognize same-sex marriage. This is instead of changing the country’s Civil Code to define marriage as between ‘people’ rather than ‘a man and a woman’.

Taiwan’s small but powerful Christian population and other conservatives are busy sharing misinformation about shrinking populations and HIV epidemics. Taiwan’s LGBTI community is under attack.

Taiwan activists are crowdfunding to pay for advertisements promoting LGBTI rights in the referendums. Furthermore, Lu urged the LGBTI community in Taiwan to do three things:

Go home and vote

Taiwanese must cast their vote in the district of their household registration.

Many people move to big cities for work or may be studying away from where they are registered.

Going home to vote, therefore, could mean spending extra time and money on traveling.

On Sunday, Taipei hosted a large rally encouraging young people in particular to make the effort to travel and vote for equality.

Tens of thousands of equal marriage supporters rallied in Taipei, Taiwan on Sunday (Photo: Facebook)
Tens of thousands of equal marriage supporters rallied in Taipei, Taiwan on Sunday (Photo: Facebook)

Talk to your older relatives to combat misinformation

Lu also encouraged every Taiwanese to talk to family and friends.

‘Make sure everyone around you supports this issue’, she said. ’Speak to parents or older relatives, to clarify the wrong information’.

‘Let them know it is all about protecting social harmony and not harming any families in Taiwan’.

Look after one another

A lot of young LGBTI people are suffering from the negative information put out by conservative campaigners.

’There have been lots of conflicts and fights in different cities’ Lu said. ‘We are very sorry to see our young volunteers hurt by the opposition’.

Everyone should get the support they need from the community’ she said. ‘Talk to your friends, and keep them calm’ she urged.

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