Conservative groups slam Cabinet’s draft bill on gay marriage

TAIPEI (CNA) – Anti-gay marriage groups said today that the Cabinet’s draft bill to legalize same-sex marriage disregards last year’s referendum in which the public voted to uphold the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

The proposed bill, expected to be enacted by May 24, was approved by the Cabinet on Thursday and will be submitted to the Legislature soon for review.

In a statement today, the Alliance for Family said the Cabinet’s bill largely suggests that the Civil Code applies also to same-sex couples, which amounts to tampering with the definition of marriage and neglecting the results of the referendum.

If same-sex marriage is legalized, so should group marriage, bigamy, fetishism, pedophilia and incest, the alliance said.

According to Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka, the bill was drafted in line with a Constitutional Court ruling on May 24, 2017, which stated that the prohibition of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Following the results of last November’s referendum, however, the Cabinet decided not to amend the Civil Code but rather to create a separate draft bill to legalize same-sex marriage, she said Wednesday.

In response, Yu Hsin-yi (游信義), convener of the conservative Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, said at a press conference Thursday that the results of last year’s referendum rejected the Constitutional Court ruling.

He said the people of Taiwan do not want to change the concept of marriage as defined in the Civil Code.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the issue, longtime gay rights activists Chi Chia-wei (祁家威) said he believes the Legislature will work around the clock to pass the bill by May 24 but he is aware that lawmakers might have to make some revisions due to pressure from certain sections of their constituents.

Victoria Hsu (許秀雯), an attorney with the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, said she was very pleased to see that the Cabinet did not give in to the anti-gay groups.

However, there is still room for better protection of gay rights, she said, adding that even with the Cabinet’s draft bill, gay couples would not have same legal rights as opposite-sex couples in some aspects.

For example, Hsu said, under Taiwan’s Artificial Reproduction Act, assisted reproductive technologies are available only to opposite-sex married couples.

In addition, according to the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements, a union between people of two different nationalities must be ratified in each of their countries before it can take effect in Taiwan, she said.

Hsu also raised the issue of whether Taiwan will recognize a same-sex marriage between a Taiwanese citizen and a national of a foreign country where gay marriage is not legal.

The draft bill, officially called “The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748,” is the first in Taiwan to be named after a constitutional interpretation, and was so named to avoid causing disputes between supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, according to the Cabinet.

By Yu Hsiao-han and Chung Yu-chen