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Tuesday, 27 November 2018 23:57

Taiwan voters rejected marriage equality but does it prevail over the High Court’s decision?

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Taiwan voters rejected marriage equality. However, the battle isn‘t lost yet.

This weekend, Taiwan held a referendum inviting Taiwanese citizens to position themselves on same-sex marriage.

Groups opposed to the equal marriage and pro-LGBT activists asked voters a series of questions.

For example, a majority of them approved the question “Do you agree that Civil Code regulations should restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman?”

But they rejected the question that asked if civil code marriage regulations “should be used to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married?”

“However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail,” Amnesty International Taiwan’s Acting Director Annie Huang said in a statement. “The result must not be used as an excuse to further undermine the rights of LGBTI people.

“The Taiwanese government needs to step up and take all necessary measures to deliver equality and dignity for all, regardless of who people love.”

Marriage equality is more complex in Taiwan and does not depend solely on this referendum. Let me explain you. In May 2017, the Taiwan High Court ruled that the marriage equality ban was unconstitutional, and the court ordered lawmakers to pass a law opening marriage to same-sex couples by 2019.

As the government did not agree on legislation, the Conservatives held a referendum. They got the 280,000 signatures needed to ask the voters to vote on equal marriage. And they rejected it.

Now, the question is whether the ballot prevails over the High Court’s ruling or is it the opposite?

Representatives of human rights organizations called for a measure.

“The government must legislate for equality of marriage by 2019 to comply with the Constitutional Court’s decision,” Amnesty’s regional campaign manager for Taiwan Suki Chung said on Twitter.

“Disappointing measure of public opinion in #Taiwan referendum does not absolve lawmakers from enacting legislation - per Constitutional Court ruling - to allow same-sex partners to marry,” the director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT rights program, Graeme Reid, tweeted.

No one knows what will happen in the coming year. Perhaps Taiwan will still become the first Asian country to legalize marriage equality.

Despite the negative result of the referendum, nothing is lost yet.

Photo credit: Cristine Lin

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