Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage presented their viewpoints at a mostly peaceful public hearing at the legislature in Taipei yesterday, with recommendations for and against amending the Civil Code or drafting a separate bill specifically to protect the rights of homosexuals and same-sex couples wishing to marry or adopt children.
While the debate continued at the hearing held by the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, a coalition of religious and conservative organizations held a rally opposing same-sex marriage at the front gate, while lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups and campaigners organized activities in support of their cause at the side entrance on Jinan Road.
It was the first of two mandated public hearings on the issue after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators managed to stall proceedings at last week’s committee meeting to review the various amendments.
At that time, a protest against same-sex marriage attended by about 20,000 people, organized by the Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for the Protection of Family, was held outside the legislature, with about 60 protesters storming the compound in the afternoon.
At yesterday’s hearing, Yen Cheng-fang (顏正芳), a psychiatrist specializing in children’s issues, said homosexuals should have the equal rights as the rest of society to enter into a marriage, form a family and raise children.
“LGBT persons will not cause unhealthy development in children, the problem is social discrimination. My studies indicate children raised by same-sex couples are just as healthy in their mental and personal development as those raised by heterosexual couples,” Yen said.
Kaohsiung Presbyterian minister Tsai Wei-en (蔡維恩) said that most Presbyterian churches and their congregations are opposed to the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“We represent the silent majority of Taiwanese. There are many people who are against [same-sex marriage], but were not given opportunity to express their opinion,” Tsai said.
Tsai said he has empathy for homosexuals and their plight, “but to legalize their marriage and other rights, it is in reality an oppression as it deprives the rights of a majority of people.”
Former New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大) said she is opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage as the issue has created much conflict and division in society.
“Marriage is not a legal right granted by the government, it is a social institution to have a family for propagating the next generation,” Hsieh said.
“The bill is not necessary, because Taiwanese do not discriminate, we are a very tolerant society ... even someone with Asperger syndrome can be elected mayor,” she said, referring to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).
“If I see a cockroach, it does not mean there is only one, but that there are hundreds of cockroaches behind it,” she said, accusing the Ministry of Justice of failing to conduct in-depth analysis and take into consideration the “domino effect” when it studied same-sex marriage issues in other nations.
She cited an Academia Sinica study that said that only 0.2 percent of the population profess to being homosexual, while 1.9 percent identify as bisexual.
“How can we allow a minority to dictate policies for the vast majority of people. If the bill passes, it will destroy the fundamental structure of society,” she said.