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Taiwan’s same-sex marriage ruling might be in real trouble

Taiwan’s same-sex marriage ruling might be in real trouble

Women hold banners against same-sex marriage in Taiwan.

Taiwan became the first Asian nation to rule in favor of same-sex marriage, but making it happen has hit massive roadblocks.

Momentum is gathering for a proposed referendum about the issue. The referendum has just been given the backing of one of Taiwan’s leading businessmen.

In May last year, the Grand Council of Justices ruled it was unconstitutional that the Civil Code did not allow same-sex couples to marry. The Council gave legislators two years to make marriage equality law.

But legislators have been slow to move on the issue, as conservative Christian groups pitch strong efforts to stop it happening.

The Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups applied to the Central Election Commission (CEC) to hold a referendum on marriage equality and whether schools should teach LGBTI sex education. The Alliance got more than 3,500 signatures in favor of the referendum. Now it must get 281,745 signatures in order for the referendum to become a reality.

Referendum gaining momentum

Tsai Wei-li is the chairman of Nanyang Industries which distributes Hyundai vehicles in Taiwan.

He has offered a cash incentive to his staff to help campaign for the referendum against same-sex marriage.

Tsai offered to pay staff NT$1,000 (US$33) to cover their expenses while campaigning.

In responding to criticism of his initiative, Tsai said it was not compulsory. But he believed that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. He also said that schools should not teach students anything about LGBTI issues.

Nanyang’s parent company, the Sanyang Group, distanced itself from Tsai’s comments. It told Apple Daily that Tsai was entitled to his own opinion, but it did not reflect the company’s position. The Sanyang Group also said company policy barred staff from discussing political issues on internal networks.

LGBTI groups tired, but preparing for referendum

Marriage equality and LGBTI advocates in Taiwan said they were preparing to campaign if the referendum goes ahead.

‘Considering the limited resources we have, we have decided to focus on getting more volunteers in each city and providing training for them to prepare the upcoming battle,’ Wayne Lin, a board member of Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBT) Hotline Association told Gay Star News.<

‘We feel angry about the result and think it is unreasonable for minority rights to be determined by referendum.

‘Moreover, the experiences from Ireland and Australia show clearly that the misleading information spread by the opposition hurts the LGBTQ community significantly and further makes the society more divided.’

Lin said LGBTI groups did not have a large pool of funds to pay for a campaign. They would have to rely on global support to help get a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum.

‘Resources between us and the opposition have a significant gap and the scale of the referendum campaigns is super large,’ he said.

‘We will need every support from every place in the world. Marriage Equality Coalition will launch a fundraising campaign soon.’