Same-sex Legalization in Taiwan May Face Referendum Hurdle

In May 2017, the top court of Taiwan said that it was unconstitutional for the government to prevent same-sex marriage.

At that time, the court mandated a two-year deadline for the national legalization of same-sex marriage.

If this legalization is, in fact, accomplished, it would net the island country a rare distinction: Taiwan would become the very first place in Asia to allow same-sex matrimony.

However, there may be an obstacle. According to the site Channel NewsAsia, on August 25, conservative activists “threw a roadblock in the path to legalising same-sex unions in Taiwan, proposing a public vote on the issue and saying any reforms would jeopardise ‘family values.'”

The anti-LGBTQ campaigners are named the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance. They submitted a petition to establish a referendum. The Alliance collected an estimated 678,000 signatures.

The proposed November referendum, if it goes against LGBTQ citizens, would prevent the nation’s civil code from being reformed in favor of same-sex marriage. The Alliance’s petition takes advantage of ambiguity in the judicial ruling, which did not specify the exact nature of how same-sex Taiwanese relationships should receive legalized status.

As stated by Channel NewsAsia, “If successful, the move may instead require a separate law to be enacted for civil unions between same-sex couples – a move that gay marriage campaigners say would be discriminatory and offer fewer legal protections.”

All legal, successful plebiscites have the force of law under the Taiwanese constitution.

In a public comment, the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, said that Taiwanese society is still of a divided mind about the issue.