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Legalize same-sex marriage despite referendum result, Human Rights Watch tells Taiwanese government

Legalize same-sex marriage despite referendum result, Human Rights Watch tells Taiwanese government

LGBTI supporters march along the streets of Taiwan's capital, Taipei (Photo: Twitter)

A human rights NGO has called on Taiwan’s government to legalize same-sex marriage, despite it being voted down in a recent referendum.

In an open letter to the Taiwanese authorities, Human Rights Watch argued that the government’s responsibility to enact a court order to recognize same-sex marriage, as well as its commitment to human rights, trumps the results of the referendum.

The letter reads: ‘We urge the Taiwanese authorities not to implement the outcomes of the referendums as this would violate human rights law, bolster discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and undermine comprehensive and inclusive education on gender and sexuality.’

‘We would like to recall that despite the referendum results, the Taiwanese government still is under court order to enact legislation for recognizing same-sex unions no later than 24 May 2019, which is the time limit set by the Constitutional Court’s interpretation of 24 May 2017.

‘Now the period for this legislation has less than six months remaining. We urge your Government to table the related legislation proposal as soon as possible.’

Divisive campaigns

In 2017, Taiwan’s top court ruled that it was unconstitutional to restrict marriage to only between men and women, and called on the government to amend the constitution accordingly.

After pushback from conservative groups, the government placed the question of legalizing same-sex unions to a referendum.

Taiwanese voters heavily rejected the notion of marriage equality, voting against it by almost 70%.

Taiwan is widely considered to be the most LGBTI-friendly nation in Asia, and the results of the referendum were seen as a huge blow to the LGBTI rights movements across the continent.

In the lead up to the vote, campaigning from both the pro- and anti-same-sex marriage advocates became increasingly bitter and divisive.

Marriage equality campaigners have said that they are considering taking legal action against anti-same-sex marriage activists, accusing them of harassing voters and spreading propaganda at voting booths.