Taiwanese groups call for 70,000 signatures to enact same-sex marriage referendum

The referendum would take place on the same day as the November regional and local elections.

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The photo shows Gay Pride Taipei in 2016.

The photo shows Gay Pride Taipei in 2016. (By Taiwan News)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Taiwan's gender and LGBTQ rights organizations are working tirelessly to garner enough signatures before the end of August to initiate a plebiscite to vote on same-sex marriage along with the November 24 regional and local elections.

The campaign to enact the referendum started at the end of July, with more than 230,000 signatures being collected five days before the deadline, August 31, meaning that the campaign is still short of 70,000 signatures to their target of 300,000. The number of signatures required for enacting a referendum is decided from the 0.5 percent of total eligible voters who participated in the most recent presidential election, according to the new amendment of the Referendum Act late last year. This translates to 280,000 people from the 2016 presidential election.

The FB page Vote4LGBT on Monday thanked volunteers and people for collecting and sending signatures, saying that in two days alone (Aug. 25-26), they collected 80,000 signatures, reaching 230,000 by Aug. 27. However, they are hoping to gather an additional 70,000 votes to reach 300,000 before Aug. 31, the deadline set by the Central Election Commission (CEC) for the November election. (Visit petition page)

"Around 10 percent of signatures would be considered invalid during the tedious and complicated verification process based on prior experience, so we set the target of 300,000 to make sure that the referendum will be initiated successfully," said Vote4LGPT on the page.

Referendum proposals like same-sex marriage, Taiwan's name at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the importation of food from Japanese regions affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have all been initiated, but none of them have reached final approval yet. It is widely expected that if any of them do, they would take place on the same day as the elections.

According to Upmedia report, the referendum campaign against same-sex marriage, which kicked off from May, has collected nearly 350,000 signatures through the country's church system, and the chance to vote in November is high.

In May last year, Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled that barring gay couples from marriage violated articles in the Constitution pertaining to the people's freedom of marriage and the people's right to equality. This ruling paved the way for Taiwan to become the first country in Asia to introduce legislation to permit same sex marriage.