LGBT families and rights groups in Taiwan on Thursday (14 March) urged an opposition party lawmaker to withdraw a ‘homophobic’ draft bill from the legislature.
They gathered outside the country’s Legislative Yuan, which is currently debating same-sex marriage legislation.
The Constitutional Court in 2017 ruled Taiwan must legislate for same-sex marriage before 24 May this year.
And, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cabinet handed a draft same-sex marriage law to parliament earlier this month.
But, this week Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Lai Shyh-bao introduced a rival bill on same-sex families.
The bill would severely limit the rights of same-sex couples. It would not include terms such as ‘marriage’ or ’spouse’.
The bill was originally drafted by anti-LGBTI campaigners and offers very limited rights. What’s more, it does not refer to marriage.
It would allow two adults of the same sex to register as one family. It also limits how much one partner can inherit from another.
Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy vice president Tsai Shang-wen said the bill was ‘homophobic’ and ‘basically offers zero protection for same-sex families’, according to the Taipei Times.
‘We understand that some members of the public and legislators might be afraid of and want to exclude gay people because they do not understand them,’ Tsai said.
‘However, same-sex couples are not seeking privileges — all they want is the same rights as others.’
How did we get here?
Taiwan last month became the first country in Asia to draft a same-sex marriage bill.
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.
Rights activists denounced this as failing to give genuine equality.