Referendums undermine Taiwan’s reputation as progressive society: New York Times

Voters seemed to oppose same-sex marriage and gender education

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The outcome of the gay rights referendums has undermined Taiwan's progressive image, writes the New York Times.

The outcome of the gay rights referendums has undermined Taiwan's progressive image, writes the New York Times. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Last Saturday’s 10 referendums produced unexpected results which have undermined Taiwan’s reputation as one of Asia’s most progressive societies, the New York Times reported.

Especially the results of five referendum on gay-related issues stunned many citizens on the island, since a majority of voters seemed to reject same-sex marriage and gender education in school.

Despite the Constitutional Court ruling in May last year that limiting marriage to heterosexual couples was unconstitutional, referendum voters decided against same-sex marriage and approved the removal of content about homosexuality from primary school textbooks, New York Times Taiwan correspondent Chris Horton wrote.

Online misinformation stoking fears about gay rights played a part in the outcome of the referendums, while gay groups said the government failed to counter the misleading campaign.

Due to the results, the Legislative Yuan will now be less likely to amend existing laws but instead draw up special separate legislation to address same-sex marriage, according to the New York Times.

The report also notes that the failure of the referendum to drop the term ‘Chinese Taipei’ at sports events like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in favor of ‘Taiwan’ might “allow Beijing to argue that the people of Taiwan are quite happy to be identified as Chinese.”