Sun, Jun 28, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan close to recognizing gay unions: alliance

OPINIONS OUT:The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said the right to marriage was not about public opinion, adding protests did not sway France

Staff writer, with CNA

Fans with rainbows painted on their cheeks show support for singer A-mei, who is a fervent supporter of civil partnership rights, outside the Taipei Arena during the Golden Melody awards yesterday.

Photo: Hu Shun-hsiang, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, which advocates the recognition of marriages between same-sex couples, said the US Supreme Court’s decision to rule in favor of the gay community is a significant indicator, adding that Taiwan is one step away from making a similar step after more than 30 years of campaigning.

Alliance secretary-general Chien Chih-chieh (簡至潔) said the US is a crucial indicator for the nation, as Taiwanese politicians look to Washington, even though same-sex unions have already been legalized in many European countries.

Chien said that the alliance visited Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in the run-up to last year’s nine-in-one elections and asked him to “support marriage equality.”

“Ko said he would wait until half of the US states recognized same-sex marriages,” Chien said. “Now, as it is legal nationwide in the US, we might ask him again.”

The group understands that its goals cannot be achieved in a short period of time; it took the US 20 years to get this far, Chien said.

Homosexual rights advocate Chi Chia-wei (祁家威) first called for recognition of same-sex marriage 30 years ago, Chien said, adding that it is “abominable” that the ruling and opposition parties mothballed a same-sex marriage bill in the legislature.

Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said: “All countries are not the same. In Taiwan, the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage remains extremely controversial.”

“We must take into consideration the development of our society and public opinion,” Chen said. “So we will not consider it right now.”

Chien said the ministry should take a position “above the fray,” citing France’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages in 2013, despite more than 300,000 protesters taking to the streets in opposition to the move.

“Equal right to marriage is not about public opinion, but an issue of human rights,” Chien said, adding that no country that has made the change has had full support from the public.

“It is not an issue that should be hindered because it is controversial,” she said.

There is no known request for an interpretation on the issue before the Council of Grand Justices.

A same-sex couple withdrew a request in early 2013 after claiming to have received death threats.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that the US ruling is the result of a prolonged movement and expressed her expectation that Taiwan would eventually follow a similar path.

“The ruling is a significant move on equality and human rights, but the US has come a long way, with society engaged in prolonged dialogue before reaching this stage,” Tsai said while attending a presidential campaign event in Taichung.

“Taiwan is facing a similar issue and we need to bridge the social gap through rational dialogue, so that society can come to a shared way of thinking,” the presidential hopeful said.

Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) posted the closing paragraph of the ruling by US Justice Anthony Kenney — which spoke about people being able to find “equal dignity in the eyes of the law” — saying that “the statement demonstrates the core value of marriage equality and serves as the best explanation for the ruling.”

DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) said she hopes same-sex marriages would soon be recognized in Taiwan.

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