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Taiwan to amend referendum law after crushing LGBTI defeat

Taiwan to amend referendum law after crushing LGBTI defeat

Taiwanese queue to vote in referendums (Photo: Facebook)

Taiwan’s government this week submitted revisions to referendum laws to prevent human rights issues from being voted upon.

It comes after crushing defeats to LGBTI rights in referendums in November last year.

Taiwan voted against both altering the Civil Code’s definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and LGBTI-inclusive education.

The results had a devastating effect on the LGBTI community in Taiwan, according to rights activists.

A number of young LGBTI people took their own lives or harmed themselves following the defeat.

This week’s law would forbid voting on human rights issues, including marriage, according to local media.

The proposed bill also includes new measures to combat voter fraud.

LGBTI advocacy groups received more than 2,000 reports of voting misconduct following the referendums.

Joyce Teng of Marriage Equality Taiwan said the referendums struck the LGBTI community.

‘Referendum shouldn’t be used to attack human right or decrease any minority in the society’ she told Gay Star News.

‘We believe the change in the referendum act is positive’.

Controversial referendum

Taiwan last year signed in new referendum laws.

Citizens need only to gather signatures from 1.5% of the electorate of the last general election —280,000 people at the moment – to secure a referendum.

Anti-LGBTI groups in September gathered enough signatures for referendums on equal marriage and the Gender Equity Education Act.

LGBTI advocates, in return, also gathered signatures for their own referendums on the same issues. These were all passed by the Election Commission in October.

Taiwan residents were, therefore, asked their opinion on five yes/no LGBTI rights questions.

They voted against LGBTI rights for all five.

Conservative campaigners ran a well-funded campaign of misinformation and scaremongering. It tore families apart.

LGBTI rights activists slammed the government for using the LGBTI community as ‘guinea pigs’ for the new law.

Taiwan’s long road to 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.

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

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’.

See also

LGBTI couples in Taiwan to celebrate marriage equality with massive banquet

Asia’s first LGBT cinema hub launched in Taiwan

Taiwan to amend LGBT education law