Wed, Feb 13, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Gay unions must be treated equally

By Chiou Wen-tsong 邱文聰, Lin Chia-ho 林佳和, Kuan Hsiao-wei 官曉薇, Sun Nai-yi 孫迺翊, Chen Yi-chien 陳宜倩, Huang Cheng-yi 黃丞儀, Liu Ching-yi 劉靜怡, Su Yen-tu 蘇彥圖 and Su Hui-chieh 蘇慧婕

The Lunar New Year holiday is a time for family get-togethers, but in Taiwan, some people who want to form a family are unable to do so.

On Nov. 24 last year, several referendums proposed by the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation against same-sex marriage were held. In response to the Central Election Commission’s requirement that a referendum must not contravene the Constitution, the coalition phrased Referendum No. 10 as: “Do you agree that the Civil Code should define marriage as the union between a man and a woman?”

In compliance with the intent of Constitutional Interpretation No. 748 — which supports same-sex marriage — the proposal did not exclude homosexuals from entering into marriage based on other laws. However, after the vote, the coalition has said that the result of the referendum has refuted the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. This is clearly contradictory to the coalition’s own referendum proposal.

At a time when the Executive Yuan is drafting a special same-sex marriage act, the coalition and other anti-LGBT groups have launched yet another lobbying campaign trying to replace a “same-sex marriage act” with a “same-sex cohabitation act.” Under much pressure, the Cabinet reportedly might propose a “same-sex partnership act,” which runs against the “freedom of marriage” declared by the Council of Grand Justices.

The coalition is not only advocating the use of non-marriage-related terms such as “partners” or “family members” when dealing with same-sex relationships — a clear contravention of the constitutional interpretation — but it is also using this disinformation to mislead the public.

If the executive and legislative branches replace same-sex marriage with non-marriage-related terminology, because they feel the pressure of next year’s legislative and presidential elections, they would be showing their contempt for the interpretation issued by the council and the result would be even greater social costs.

The following two points are a solemn reminder to the executive and legislative branches that they must not create a political disaster by passing unconstitutional legislation.

The first is that the coalition’s advocacy of a “same-sex cohabitation act” contravenes the intent of Constitutional Interpretation No. 748 and goes beyond the scope of the referendum. The Cabinet should promptly propose a bill in line with the Constitution.

The coalition has claimed that in the main body of the interpretation, the council permits the legal creation of civil unions outside of the marriage system.

However, as a group of academics who have spent a long time studying, researching and teaching the Constitution and related courses, we believe that such claims are wrong.

Based on the most fundamental literal interpretation of the interpretation, the word “marriage” in the term “marriage freedom” in the original text is not merely restricted to a union for the purpose of living together, as it also includes various legal aspects of marriage.

As “union for the purpose of living together” does not have any specific legal meaning, if the coalition attempts to confuse this with the definition of “marriage,” it does not even satisfy the most fundamental literal interpretation of the interpretation.

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