Taiwanese LGBT groups upset with passage of anti-gay referendum proposals

Taiwanese gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei: a referendum is not the way to go when it comes to human rights


TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) passed three referendum proposals made by local anti-gay groups on Tuesday to bring issues of same-sex marriage and gender equality education to public debate.

Taiwanese gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei (祈家威) and the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) protested at the CEC building after the decision was made Tuesday evening. Chi said that a referendum is not the way to go when it comes to basic human rights.

Other LGBT organizations in Taiwan are also upset with the CEC’s decision. Equallove called on President Tsai Ing-wen to fulfill her promise to support marriage equality while running for office, saying that Taiwan has come so far to embrace diversity, including a landmark ruling by the constitutional court in favor of same-sex marriage last year. “We should safeguard the hard-won progress,” says the group on its FB page.

The photo shows LGBT activists led by Chi Chia-wei (祈家威) protesting in front of the CEC building on Tuesday (Credit: CNA)

What are the anti-gay referendum proposals all about?

The three proposals have been made by the anti-gay group the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance (下一代幸福聯盟), which was described by J. Michael Cole, the Editor in Chief of Taiwan Sentinel, as a Christian KMT members-backed organization.

According to Storm Media, the first proposed referendum question is “do you agree to protect the rights of same-sex couples to initiate a long-time relationship to live together based on the laws other than Taiwan’s Civil Code?” The proposed first question was followed by: “Do you agree that elementary and junior high schools should not initiate “gay and lesbian education” as regulated in the Enforcement Rules for the Gender Equality Education Act?” and “Do you agree that the Civil Code should only allow opposite-sex marriage?”

Influential lawyer Lu Chiu-yuan (呂秋遠) on Tuesday questioned the government for tardy progress over the amendment of the Civil Code to address last year's ruling by the constitutional court in favor of same-sex marriage. Lu continued to say that if the government could have put one tenth of the efforts it put into the labor law amendment into the other issue, same-sex marriage would have been legalized today.

Lu added that legalizing same-sex marriage in the Civil Code is the best option for the government, while it was unfortunately not clearly advised in the ruling by the grand judges, and that gave the anti-gay groups a chance to initiate the referendum today.

“If it is a human right, a referendum is not the way to go, and the CEC’s decision is really unacceptable,” says Lu.