A ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker argued Sunday that same-sex marriage should be protected under Taiwan’s Civil Code, while a law professor contended that revising the law will adversely affect society.
Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) and Tseng Pin-chieh (曾品傑) of National Chung Cheng University’s College of Law presented opposing views at a televised forum on a planned referendum on same-sex marriage to be held on Nov. 24.
The referendum will ask voters the question: “Do you agree that the Civil Code marriage regulations should be used to guarantee the rights of same sex couples to get married?”
Taiwan’s Civil Code currently defines marriage as a contract between a man and a woman, but Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled in May 2017 that the law was unconstitutional because it did not protect the rights of couples of the same sex who wanted to get married.
It ordered authorities to amend the law within two years to guarantee those protections.
Supporting a change in the Civil Code, Tuan argued that if people agree that marriage should be protected by law, such protections should not differ for a marriage between a man and a woman and one between two men or two women.
Challenging the argument by those opposing same-sex marriage that such ties jeopardize the possibility of natural reproduction and could lead to a declining fertility rate, Tuan asserted that there were no scientific links between same-sex marriage and an aging society.
“When has natural reproduction become necessary for a couple to get married?” he asked, arguing that many countries where same-sex marriage is legal, such as France and Belgium, have rising fertility rates that are higher than Taiwan’s.
Conversely, the fertility rate has fallen by over 30 percent since 2000 in Taiwan, where same-sex marriage is not legal, Tuan said.
Another example he cited against the existing law was the ban some 50 years ago in most of the United States on people from different ethnic groups getting married, but now people would find it absurd that a marriage between a white person and an African-American would be prohibited, he said.
Arguing that the Civil Code should be kept as is, Tseng asserted that the eternal bonds between two same-sex peoples and the rights of such couples to live together should be protected in a form other than the way marriage is defined in the Civil Code.
The law was established on the basis of links between a man and a woman, he said, arguing it’s “not necessary” to change the many articles of the Civil Code that describe a marriage as being between a man and woman, which has had such profound cultural meaning for so long.
“Biological genders will not disappear even if a country recognizes social genders or psychological genders,” the scholar said, contending that traditional terms describing the relations of a couple should remain unchanged so that people will not get confused.
It is difficult for ordinary Taiwanese to tell their relatives and friends that the husband of their daughter is a “she,” Tseng argued.
The referendum is one of 10 questions to be voted on in conjunction with elections for local government posts on Nov. 24. Among the other nine questions, there is another one advocating same-sex marriage and three opposing it.
The Central Election Commission is holding a total of 50 televised presentations of opposing views on the referendums until Nov. 21 for voters to get a better understanding of the issues involved.