Same-sex marriage draft bill proceeds to second reading

TAIPEI (CNA) – Taiwan’s Legislature today voted to send a draft bill that would legalize same-sex marriage to a second reading, with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) mobilizing its lawmakers to push the polarizing bill forward.

The Legislature voted 59-24 to send the “The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748” to a second reading, where the bill is expected to undergo extensive discussion and an article-by-article review.

Bills in Taiwan have to complete second and third readings by the full Legislature before becoming laws.

The DPP caucus mobilized its lawmakers today to push the bill forward, as the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) caucuses proposed sending the bill back to the Procedure Committee for review.

The party holds 66 seats in the 109-member body (the Legislature usually has 113 seats but by-elections will be held later this month to fill the four open seats) and was able to cobble together a majority, even though several of its lawmakers either abstained or did not show up.

Under the draft bill, gay couples can register their marriage or divorce at any household registration office. It also covers areas such as inheritance rights, medical rights, adoption of children, and monogamy.

The bill was drafted in line with a Constitutional Court ruling issued on May 24, 2017, which stated that the prohibition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and that the relevant authorities must amend or enact laws in accordance with the court’s interpretation within two years.

Following the results of a Nov. 24, 2018 referendum that opposed any amendments to the Civil Code to allow legalization of same-sex unions, the Cabinet decided not to amend the Civil Code but rather to create a special separate draft bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

By Christie Chen and Wang Yang-yu