Conservative groups in Taiwan denounce draft same-sex marriage bill

The bill has incensed anger among leaders of the anti-equality camp

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Anti-equality protestors calling for a referendum in 2017

Anti-equality protestors calling for a referendum in 2017 (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Executive Yuan rolled out a draft same-sex marriage bill on Wednesday marking a milestone for civil rights in the country, but the monumental step towards securing equality has incensed anger amongst the conservative opposition.

Anti-equality groups have said although they are happy with the name of the bill, too much of the content is borrowed from the existing articles on marriage in Taiwan’s Civil Code, and completely overlooks the results of last year’s referendums.

The bill is entitled “The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748” (司法院釋字第748號解釋施行法) and is the first ever to be named after a constitutional interpretation. The naming decision was made to avoid dispute between both camps, Speaker of the Executive Yuan Kolas Yotaka said today.

Among those denouncing the draft legislation is Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, the group that last year initiated three successful referendums opposing same-sex marriage and gender equity education. Organization leader You Hsin-yi (游信義) published a Facebook post summarizing discussions held by the group at a press conference earlier today.

You accused the government of ignoring the public will and operating only with the next general election in mind, calling the administration “irresponsible” and “opportunistic.” You stated that the public has already down-voted Constitutional Court Interpretation 748 (which states prohibiting same-sex unions is unconstitutional) and questioned why the government has gone on to implement it, rather than adhering to the referendum results.

“It is a marital system that fundamentally does not protect our country,” he said. “I have stressed time and again he who destroys the value of marriage destroys the values of our country.”

Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang (呂太郎) clarified last year, however, that Constitutional Court interpretations hold the highest rule of law and cannot be overruled by referendums. The referendums were to inform by what legal mechanism same-sex couples shall be guaranteed equal rights, he clarified, not to strip them of privileges that are already constitutionally secured.

The bill is expected to be enacted by May 24.