Taiwan’s same-sex marriage bill falls short

Taiwan’s premier asked the country’s ‘homosexual friends’ to ‘wait a bit longer’

Taiwan on Thursday (21 February) became the first country in Asia to submit a same-sex marriage bill to parliament.

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

Lawmakers from both major parties have been given free rein to debate and vote on the legislation in the coming days and weeks.

To comply with a May 2017 court ruling that Taiwan’s Civil Code was unconstitutional for failing to recognize same-sex marriage, parliament will need to pass the law by 24 May.

‘It’s a start’
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.

Following the results, 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.

To avoid controversy, Thursday’s bill is named after the constitutional court’s ruling, number 748. Although it currently contains the word marriage, this could be changed by parliament.

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday said the draft law respected both the constitutional court ruling and the referendum results.

‘Controversies are expected about the proposal, but I really hope our homosexual friends can wait a bit longer’ Su said in a statement.

‘This might fall short of expectations, but after all, it’s a start’, he said.

‘It has come from nothing to something,’ Su said. ‘We have already seen the beam of light, and it will be brighter at one day’.

Almost-equal rights
‘It is not fair to ask the LGBT community to wait a little longer’ Jennifer Lu, co-ordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan said. ‘Society ’s system already exploited them for too long’.

But, she told Gay Star News, the bill was a ‘a very clever way’ to move forward.

She said it was not ‘perfect’ but could be acceptable as long as it had the structure of marriage.

She said the LGBTI community suffered trauma from the referendum and was tstill taking time to heal. ‘Many LGBT people don’t have the resources to face that battle again in their lifetime’ she said.

LGBTI rights advocates and lawmaker for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Yu Mei-nu, said ‘the bill is acceptable, though the bill isn’t so perfect’.

‘The bill may be the most possible way to give almost-equal rights to same-sex spouse’, she told Gay Star News.

She flagged that the bill did not give equal adoption rights to opposite-sex married couples.

The current draft does not allow joint adoption. It only gives one of the same-sex spouses the right to adopt the other’s biological child.

What will happen in parliament?
Conservative group the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation said the draft was ‘unacceptable.’

LGBT rights activist Jay Lin said he hoped that the majority of the LGBTI people can accept the bill.

‘I truly believe this is the best compromise that is consistent with the constitution as well as the referendum’ he told Gay Star News.

It’s still unknown what parliament will do with the bill.

Yu Mei-nu said most DPP lawmakers, who hold the most seats in parliament, can accept this bill.

However, she said, ‘we can’t predict the outcome but we hope the bill could pass smoothly and give equal rights to same-sex spouses’.

If parliament fails to pass the bill, same-sex marriages will become legal by default.

by Rik Glauert
Source – Gay Star News