Wed, Oct 18, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Government must act on gay marriage

About five months after supporters of same-sex marriage celebrated the historic constitutional interpretation that made Taiwan the pride of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer rights in Asia, its supporters were reminded that it was merely an interpretation and has no legal effect.

On Thursday, the High Administrative Court in Taipei dismissed a request by a same-sex couple to legalize their union — even though not allowing them to do so has been ruled unconstitutional — because there have been no amendments or new laws that provide the legal framework for such a union.

Same-sex marriage is stuck in limbo. Even if the government fails to make any amendments, same-sex couples can get married after the two-year period following the interpretation has lapsed. So it is just a matter of time, but as there is no law permitting same-sex marriages, courts can easily strike down any same-sex marriage requests made until then.

Some might wonder, why not wait out the two years? French professor Jacques Picoux committed suicide exactly one year ago on Monday, after being denied the right to make medical decisions for his long-time partner before he died of an illness.

Nearly 1,000 people gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard on Monday to observe the anniversary, shouting slogans such as: “No more regrets, we refuse to wait any longer.”

In another case, Taiwan Gender Queer Rights Advocacy Alliance secretary-general Nelson Hu’s (胡勝翔) partner of 12 years has been diagnosed with a rare form of hemangioma and could soon die.

There are likely countless cases like these — and really, does one have to repeatedly cite life-and-death situations to argue a simple human rights issue?

It is true that amending the law is not a simple matter, but a number of bills have been introduced prior to the interpretation — meaning that this is not a new matter. There is already plenty of existing material to draw on.

However, no concrete plans seem to have been made by the Executive Yuan.

Instead, according to a Central News Agency report, Premier William Lai (賴清德) earlier this month said that he has not given up drafting a proposal by the end of the year, adding that he would not delay the issue and would try his best to push it forward.

That is standard government-speak that might not mean anything.

However, he added: “Since there are still reservations against this matter in society, the Executive Yuan hopes to put forward, relatively speaking, a more appropriate proposal to solve the problem. This will take time.”

What does that even mean? Since when does societal reservations supersede the Constitution? And what is “relatively speaking, a more appropriate proposal”?

By keeping things vague, Lai will only cause people to question his sincerity.

Even though he has repeatedly voiced his support for same-sex marriage, he made some questionable comments last month by saying that male homosexual activity is the primary source of HIV/AIDS.

With people already disgruntled with the government, this only makes one further question Lai’s sincerity and even his basic knowledge.

Nevertheless, all eyes will be on him now. It would look bad for President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration if the government does nothing and allows the two-year period to run out. The interpretation gave the nation’s leaders a chance to deliver on their promises and salvage their image — they should not waste it.

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