Wed, Dec 05, 2018 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Anti-LGBT vote not a total defeat

As the curtain closed on the Nov. 24 elections, several analyses were issued offering various perspectives of what message the voters sent on election day. Politically, the gains and losses of the ruling and opposition parties differed drastically, and much attention has been given to the shifting political map and the after-effects for the Democratic Progressive Party and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). As for the referendums, the results show a “Chinese Taipei” saying no to possibly nuclear-contaminated food, but yes to nuclear energy and that a majority opinion on same-sex marriage has emerged.

Meanwhile, international media outlets’ interpretation of the election results has focused on the victory of the China-friendly opposition and the setback for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage receives much attention because the issue not only concerns legal rights, but also has far-reaching implications for social, ethical, educational, economic and other issues. The issue is given great importance in Taiwan and is also a controversial issue internationally.

The Council of Grand Justices in May last year issued Interpretation No. 748, which ruled that the Civil Code’s exclusion of same-sex marriage contravenes constitutional guarantees of equality and that the failure to protect same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

According to the ruling, “the authorities concerned shall amend or enact the laws as appropriate, in accordance with the ruling of this Interpretation, within two years from the announcement of this Interpretation.”

With the interpretation, Taiwan looked set to be the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage. However, the implementation has been extremely controversial, as exemplified by the large number of referendums following the lowered threshold for initiating a referendum.

Same-sex marriage-related proposals accounted for half of the 10 referendums on Nov. 24: same-sex marriage supporters proposed two referendums — on equal marriage rights and on gender equality education — while the opposing camp proposed three — on the definition of marriage, gender equality education for suitable ages and a separate same-sex marriage act.

As it turned out, the three anti-LGBT referendums passed by a considerable margin, and the two pro-LGBT proposals were voted down by an equally considerable margin.

Anti-LGBT groups think that the large majority demonstrated by the results is a victory for family values, traditional marriage and the education of the next generation. The pro-LGBT rights camp, on the other hand, feel frustrated.

Generally observing the referendums from a pro-LGBT perspective, international media outlets have interpreted the referendum outcome as a huge blow to Taiwanese liberalism and the nation’s reputation as an Asian pioneer for same-sex marriage rights.

Same-sex marriage is also highly controversial internationally. Data show that only 25 of about 200 countries recognize same-sex marriage legally. The great majority of countries range from partial legalization of same-sex marriage to completely prohibiting it.

Ten countries, mainly Islamic, even punish homosexuality with the death penalty.

In the EU, for instance, 15 of its 28 member states have legalized same-sex marriage. Austria, as well as non-EU member Switzerland, only allow same-sex couples to register partnerships, but same-sex marriage is not yet legalized, although it is to become legal in Austria on Jan. 1.

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