Taiwan company chairman mobilizes staff to vote against same-sex marriage

Nanyang Industries chairman plans to compensate managers from his personal funds

Anti-equality protestors calling for a referendum in 2017

Anti-equality protestors calling for a referendum in 2017 (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The chairman of Nanyang Industries Co., Ltd. (南陽實業), the company which distributes South Korean Hyundai vehicles in Taiwan, is asking managers to help with a campaign for a referendum against same-sex marriage, while promising NT$1,000 (US$33) each to cover their expenses, the Apple Daily reported Thursday.

The approval of gay marriage has been winding its way through Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan for years now, with a decision by the Constitutional Court in May last year helping giving it a push forward. However, opponents have also launched a campaign to hold a referendum with wording considered unfavorable to same-sex marriage.

While it is not certain yet if or when such a referendum will take place, Nanyang Industries Chairman Tsai Wei-li (蔡維力) on Wednesday reportedly told managers to collect petitions in favor of the referendum from staff while promising them NT$1,000 each for their efforts, the Apple Daily said.

Nanyang employees reportedly told the newspaper that while the effort was not obligatory, it would be difficult to tell whether those who refused would suffer no repercussions down the road, as the boss and the staff did not hold equal power.

Responding to the criticism, Tsai told the Apple Daily that the campaign was not compulsory, and that he was paying the compensation for mailing and other expenses from his own pocket, not from company funds.

Tsai said he agreed with the basic viewpoints of the referendum organizers, namely that marriage should be between one man and one woman, and that schools should not be teaching gay issues.

The chairman also said that he would have no way of knowing who of his more than 1,000 employees would sign the referendum petition or not.

The Sanyang Group, which includes Nanyang Industries, said that people had the right to their personal opinions but those did not represent company views. Sanyang said employees should not discuss political, social or other issues unrelated to the company on internal networks, the Apple Daily reported.