Taiwan pro-gay rights referendum proposals move forward

Proposals have received enough signatures, but final decision expected next Tuesday

Two gay rights referendum questions are likely to come up for a vote with seven other questions on November 24.

Two gay rights referendum questions are likely to come up for a vote with seven other questions on November 24. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Two referendum proposals by the gay rights movement won the approval of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Thursday, making it more likely that they would be added to the seven plebiscites already planned for November 24.

Voters all over Taiwan will be electing city mayors and county magistrates, councilors and local government and neighborhood officials that day, while several issues will be up for a vote in the first-ever major combination of referendums. Opponents of same-sex marriage have already seen three proposals approved for a vote on November 24.

The CEC agreed Thursday morning that two referendum proposals from gay rights supporters had gained enough signatures, though a decision expected next Tuesday should be final and determine whether they will be up for a vote on election day, the Apple Daily reported.

The first proposal asked whether voters agree that the Civil Code should allow same-sex marriage. Opponents of gay marriage have said there should be a separate legal provision different from existing marriage legislation.

The proposal received 474,777 signatures from the public, with 432,329 of those being accepted as valid, according to CEC data. More than 42,000 signatures were declared invalid, with more than 2,000 showing signs of forgery and 44 attributed to dead people, the Apple Daily reported.

Several other recent referendum proposals, including some from the main opposition Kuomintang, showed widespread signs of forgery and the use of people who had already died.

The second referendum question submitted by gay rights activists asked whether the Gender Equality Education Act should provide in the education of topics like gender equality and gay rights at elementary and middle schools. The proposal received 438,066 valid signatures, the CEC said.

The three questions from the opponents of same-sex marriage ask about legislation for same-sex unions outside the Civil Code, a restriction of marriage to unions between a man and a woman, and a ban on gay-related education at elementary and middle schools.