Taiwan’s ruling party on Thursday (16 May) submitted a motion to alter their same-sex marriage bill scheduled to be voted on in parliament Friday.
They are hoping to appease conservative lawmakers by removing the word ‘marriage’ from the bill.
It is a last-minute plot-twist in Taiwan’s bid to become the first place in Asia for same-sex marriage.
Taiwan’s parliament on Friday will vote on three bills affording rights to same-sex couples in line with a 2017 Constitutional Court ruling.
Activists have slammed the two other bills, largely supported by opposition lawmakers, as homophobic, discriminatory, and unconstitutional.
A cabinet spokesperson on Thursday called the proposed changes ‘minor revisions’ that would not affect same-sex couples’ rights.
Taiwan’s top leaders on Thursday urged ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers to get behind the government’s bill.
President Tsai Ing-wen said it was a ‘chance to make history’:
Good morning #Taiwan. Today, we have a chance to make history & show the world that progressive values can take root in an East Asian society.
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) May 17, 2019
‘History will remember you’ Premier Su Tseng-chang said in an emotional address on Thursday.
LGBTI rights activists were receptive of the DPP’s tactic as it still allows same-sex couples to register their marriage with the relevant authorities.
Taiwan became the first government in Asia to submit a same-sex marriage bill to parliament earlier this year.
It is rushing to pass a bill before a 24 May court deadline.
In 2017, Taiwan’s highest court ruled the Civil Code was unconstitutional. It failed to recognize same-sex marriages. It gave lawmakers a two-year deadline to legislate.
But, in a devastating referendum in November 2018. Taiwan voters opted for a separate law to legalize same-sex unions rather than to change the Civil Code.
The government’s bill is, therefore, a compromise between the court ruling and the referendums.
Activists complained that the bill failed to offer genuine equality in line with the Constitutional Court ruling. For example, parenthood and adoption rights are not consistent with heterosexual marriages.
Many LGBTI couples, however, accepted the bill as a compromise after the devastating referendum results.
Since then, anti-LGBTI lawmakers have introduced two more bills to parliament.
In March, LGBTI families slammed an opposition party bill as ‘homophobic‘. It does not include terms such as ‘marriage’ or ’spouse’.
Last week, lawmakers and activists slammed a second bill as ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unconstitutional’.
It would allow relatives to launch a court appeal if they believe the marriage is ‘fake’.