Tue, Dec 27, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Committee green-lights same-sex marriage draft

EQUALITY:An amendment to adoption rules would introduce a provision to prohibit courts from rejecting applications based on gender or sexual orientation

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Supporters of marriage equality yesterday gather outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, where legislators were debating an amendment to the Civil Code that would allow same-sex marriage.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Amid heated protests, amendments to the Civil Code to recognize same-sex marriage cleared a legislative committee yesterday, bringing the nation one step closer to legalizing same-sex marriage.

The legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee passed draft amendments to the Civil Code which would legalize same-sex marriage and entitle same-sex couples to the same marital, parental and adoptive rights and obligations accorded to heterosexual couples by the Civil Code and other laws, with the exception of the presumption of paternity, a legal determination that is still exclusively for heterosexual couples.

During the review, the committee revised an amendment proposed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) that would neutralize the gender-based Article 972 of the Civil Code, which stipulates that a marriage is an agreement between a man and a woman.

Yu’s amendment would remove the “man and woman” provision from the article and recognize marriage as an agreement between “two parties,” a contentious point between supporters and opponents of the marriage equality legislation.

However, to reduce opposition to the legislation, DPP Legislator Julian Kuo (郭正亮) raised a motion to revise Yu’s amendment, proposing that “man and woman” be retained, but inserting an addendum to recognize “both parties of a same-sex marriage.”

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) raised a similar motion.

Kuo’s motion was passed.

An amendment to the adoption regulations of the Civil Code would introduce an anti-discrimination provision to prohibit the courts from rejecting adoption applications based on gender, gender identification or sexual orientation.

The amendments, as well as other draft bills on marriage equality, are to be deliberated in cross-caucus negotiations before further reviews. The next legislative review is not expected until April.

“It is an act of democracy that the amendments were passed after communication and deliberations,” Yu said.

She called on the public not to spread misinformation about the amendments, as, unlike opponents of the legislation have said, the amendments would not remove the legal terms “father” and “mother” or “husband” and “wife.”

“The public can rest assured that the legislation will not change heterosexual marriage in any way, but it will extend [the rights and obligations of] such marriages to same-sex couples,” she said. “The legislation will not destroy the family or abolish marriage.”

The legalization of same-sex marriage does not cause civic unrest in the Netherlands, which was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, Yu said, urging marriage equality opponents to exercise tolerance.

She rejected proposals to launch a referendum to decide on marriage equality, saying a human rights issue should not be put to the vote.

“We are not God. How do we have the right to decide on other people’s human rights?” Yu asked.

It would take at least six months for the legislation to pass, she said, calling on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights campaigners to make use of those “golden six months” to communicate with the public.

Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said the Ministry of Justice would propose a special same-sex marriage law by February, which is expected to undergo review in the next legislative session along with the amendments to the Civil Code passed yesterday.

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