Supporters and opponents of LGBTI rights rallied near Taiwan’s parliament on Wednesday (8 May).
The groups were making their positions clear ahead of discussions on how to legalize same-sex unions in parliament scheduled for Thursday.
Nearly 40 LGBTI families gathered in front of the Legislative Yuan on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to enact the government’s bill. Out of three bills under discussion, this affords the most rights to same-sex couples and families.
Hundreds of anti-LGBTI rights campaigners, meanwhile, gathered near the Yuan to defend ‘marriage between one man and one woman’.
Taiwan’s legislature is scrambling to enact a same-sex marriage bill ahead of a 24 May court deadline.
Taiwan’s highest court in 2017 ruled the country’s Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex marriage.
But, in a 2018 referendum, Taiwan’s voters opted for a separate law to recognize same-sex unions rather than amending the Civil Code.
The three bills in parliament give different levels of recognition to same-sex couples and families.
Lawmakers and activists have slammed two of the laws as ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unconstitutional’.
LGBTI families on Wednesday explained how the lack of legal recognition impacted their families.
‘Dear legislator, please don’t break up our family’ one demonstrator said, according to a press release from Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan.
They said LGBTI families could accept the government’s bill as a compromise after the referendum.
But, they said, the other drafts contravened their right to love and family life.
The three same-sex marriage bills in Taiwan
Taiwan is set to become the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex unions by May 24.
If parliament does not legislate by this date, same-sex marriage will become legal by default in line with the 2017 court ruling.
In February, the government drafted a same-sex marriage bill and passed it to parliament.
But, as the details emerged, the government, lawmakers, and activists admitted it fell short of true marriage equality.
And, following the 2018 referendum, conservative groups have been lobbying lawmakers. They want parliament to enact a ‘cohabitation’ or ‘partnership’ law to afford same-sex couples similar rights as marriage.
Taiwan’s opposition party, therefore, also introduced a same-sex union bill to parliament. LGBTI rights groups and families, however, denounced it as ‘homophobic’.
What’s more, last week, another bill progressed through parliament.
Pro-LGBTI legislator, Yu Mei-Nu, last week described the bill as ‘stark discrimination’ against same-sex couples.
The bill 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.