Sat, Mar 25, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Gay groups push for marriage rights

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Gay rights activists gathered yesterday to call for the legalization of homosexual unions at a public hearing, saying that gay people should receive equal treatment and rights.

Ashley Wu (巫緒樑), the director of public affairs at the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, said that homosexuals should have the option of entering a legal union, whether it be called a "civil union" or "marriage."

In many Western countries, where religions like Christianity forbid gay unions to be called "marriages," "civil unions" are legally permitted, Wu said.

Although Taiwan has fewer religious limitations, traditional family values and culture have led to widespread opposition to such unions, Wu added.

The association conducted a survey at the end of last year which showed that 89 percent of homosexual respondents believe that gay marriages should be legalized.

Wu Min-hsuan (吳銘軒), head of the Gay Parade Alliance, said that even if some gays don't want to get married, they should at least have the right to do so.

"It's not just about marriage, it's about having the freedom of choice," said Wang Ping (王蘋), secretary-general of the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association. "Everyone has basic rights."

The groups said that without legally guaranteed rights, gay couples may pay more taxes than heterosexual couples, and have insurance problems and welfare restrictions.

Civic groups also pointed out that the Civic Law (民法) has no strictures against homosexuals and no clear regulations regarding gay unions either.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), who led the hearing at the Legislative Yuan, said that she hoped the movie Brokeback Mountain wasn't a fad, and that it would help bring long-term social equality for gay people.

Hsiao said that amending the marriage regulations under the Civic Law was one way to resolve the problem, but that an individual law covering gay relationships was feasible as well.

Wu said that the Civic Law was more difficult to amend since it has been around for a long time, while a new law focusing on homosexuals would be easier to pass.

He added that the Ministry of Justice has been drafting a human rights basic law since 2001 and that it includes stipulations allowing homosexuals to establish a family and adopt children.

But no conclusions have been reached so far, Wu said.

Lin Chien-hung (林建宏), section chief of the ministry's legal affairs department, said that the human rights law was rejected by the Executive Yuan last February because it was incomplete.

However, she said, the ministry would meet with Cabinet officials next week and the draft law should be sent in for review soon.

Chen Yuh-won (陳玉完), section chief of the juvenile and family department at the Judicial Yuan, said that although lawmakers want equality for everyone, traditional society may still reject issues such as gay marriages.

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