Fri, Dec 07, 2018 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: KMT not respecting Constitution

Days after the Nov. 24 elections, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shih-bao (賴士葆) demanded that the government “abide by the will of the people” and only allow same-sex couples to have civil unions.

Lai also lashed out at Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) for “trumping democracy” by saying that any laws passed following the referendums “cannot contradict” the Council of Grand Justices’ Interpretation No. 748, which guarantees same-sex couples the right to marriage.

He also proposed introducing another referendum in 2020 to annul the interpretation.

The absurdity here is manyfold.

First, the referendum questions on Nov. 24 need to be clarified. Two of the three questions proposed by groups against marriage equality were related to marriage: “Do you agree that the Civil Code should define marriage as the union between a man and a woman?” and “Do you agree that the right to persons of the same sex to create a permanent union should be guaranteed by an institution other than marriage as defined by the Civil Code?”

The wordings were formed after a hearing determined that the groups’ original questions — which used “marriage” in the questions without the restrictive modifier “as defined by the Civil Code” — had contradicted the constitutional interpretation.

In other words, by acknowledging the mistake and changing the wording, the groups fully understood that the authorities would still be required by the interpretation to amend or enact laws that protect same-sex couples’ right to marriage — or so the Central Election Commission believed, as it said in a news release in April after it approved the questions.

Legal experts cautioned the commission even before the referendums took place, saying that the groups were veiling their true intentions by adding the restrictive modifiers to their proposals just so the questions could pass the commission’s review. Meanwhile, the groups were telling the public that they were campaigning to block same-sex couples from marrying at all, whether via the Civil Code or a separate law.

So the warning was right: The groups are denying that the referendum results leave any room for the possibility of marriage equality, even in the form of a separate law.

They were endorsed by some KMT lawmakers and likely by many more who voiced their support for the groups before the elections, including Kaohsiung mayor-elect Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who reportedly called an anti-gay pastor after the elections and promised to bring his choice for Kaohsiung Education Bureau head to the pastor, presumably for approval.

Lai also said that what Hsu and another “few grand justices” decided was not as democratic as the referendum, and that as long as Hsu and other justices appointed by the Democratic Progressive Party do not recognize the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution, their decisions are not to be respected.

Plenty of debates could be launched on the question of whether constitutional courts are “democratic” enough, but what is certain is that the KMT does not respect the Constitution as much as it thinks it does. KMT politicians only cite it when discussing cross-strait relations, shouting about the section on territory.

Lai is no exception. He criticized Hsu’s qualification because Hsu had argued that the sovereignty of the ROC does not extend to the “mainland.”

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