Now Reading
‘Discriminatory’ same-sex marriage bill advances through Taiwan’s parliament

‘Discriminatory’ same-sex marriage bill advances through Taiwan’s parliament

Yu Mei-Nu holds a sign at Taipei Pride (Photo: Provided)

A same-sex union bill slammed as ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unconstitutional’ has advanced through Taiwan’s parliament.

Taiwan’s lawmakers are now debating three bills that would legalize same-sex unions ahead of a court deadline later this month.

One bill, which advanced to a second reading last week, would allow relatives to launch a court appeal if they believe the marriage is ‘fake’.

Taiwan’s Constitutional Court on 24 May, 2017 ruled Taiwan’s Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex marriage.

It gave a two-year deadline for parliament to enact a law in line with the ruling after which same-sex marriage will be legal by default.

But, a referendum in November last year found the majority of Taiwan voters supported a separate law for same-sex marriage rather than changing the Civil Code.

It was a devastating loss for the LGBTI community.

‘Stark discrimination’

The latest bill was drafted by the notoriously anti-LGBTI chairwoman of smartphone maker HTC, Cher Wang.

Pro-LGBTI legislator, Yu Mei-Nu, last week described the bill as ‘stark discrimination’ against same-sex couples.

She questioned what right relatives or the courts had to scrutinize the sincerity of others’ marriage.

The bill also contains a clause saying: ‘As one’s conscience and freedom should not be affected by the enactment of this act, conveying or inculcating beliefs against the relationship described in Article 2 [same-sex union] does not constitute discrimination’, according to the Taipei Times.

What’s more, Chief Coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan Jennifer Lu told Gay Star News slammed the bill as unconstitutional.

‘There is no chance we can accept them’ she said.

She encouraged lawmakers to get behind the government’s same-sex marriage bill, introduced in February.

‘We hope [[the bill] passes smoothly as soon as possible so that same-sex couples can actually get married after 24 May, and Taiwan can be the first place in Asia [for same-sex marriage].

Taiwan and same-sex marriage

Taiwan is set to become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex unions by May 24.

In February, the government drafted a same-sex marriage bill and passed it to parliament. It was the first country in Asia to do so.

But as the details emerged, the government, lawmakers, and activists admitted it fell short of true marriage equality.

The compromise bill 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.

In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled it was unconstitutional to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. It gave a two-year deadline to legislate.

But, following the referendum, conservative groups have been lobbying lawmakers to enact a ‘cohabitation’ or ‘partnership’ law to afford same-sex couples similar rights as marriage.

Taiwan’s opposition party also introduced a same-sex union bill to parliament. LGBTI rights groups and families denounced it as ‘homophobic’.

This latest bill is the third bill under dicussion.