Tue, Dec 27, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Twin rallies mark bill’s approval

VEHEMENT OPPOSITION:Opponents marched to the Presidential Office Building to demand that President Tsai meet with them and called for her resignation

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Marriage equality supporters rally on Jinan Road outside of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Opponents of same-sex marriage yesterday vowed to continue their fight and put the issue to a referendum, after a legislative committee gave preliminary approval to Civil Code amendments that would legalize gay marriages.

Both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage gathered outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei early in the morning as the Organic Laws and Statutes Committee reviewed proposed amendments to the Civil Code. Supporters sat down on Jinan Road, while opponents gathered on Zhongshan S Road.

Police established a buffer zone between the two roads to prevent conflict between the two groups.

The supporters’ rally was mostly peaceful, but about 100 same-sex marriage opponents climbed the Legislative Yuan’s front gate and walls in an attempt to storm the building. However, they were immediately stopped by police, who restrained them with white plastic zip ties and restricted them to a designated area. The protesters were eventually released.

Shouts of joy erupted from same-sex marriage supporters after a large monitor showed that the amendments had secured the committee’s preliminary approval, with some moved to tears.

Following the approval of the amendments, opponents marched to Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building, demanding that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) meet with them and hear their appeals. They also demanded that Tsai resign for allowing the creation of the legislation.

The Presidential Office received representatives of the protesters, who submitted their petitions.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) later said that the protesters’ representatives were received by Presidential Office Acting Secretary-General Jason Liu (劉建忻) and Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).

Ko explained to the representatives that it would not be possible for the draft legislation to clear the legislative floor in the current legislative session and that there was a consensus among lawmakers on the committee that the legislation should be thoroughly deliberated in cross-party negotiations, Huang said.

“Liu told them he was willing to arrange a meeting with President Tsai at an opportune time. The president will of course listen to different opinions,” Huang said, adding that such a meeting would likely take place late next month.

Discussions on legalizing same-sex marriage began in 2006, but proposals could not even be listed on the legislative agenda at the time because of opposition from a majority of lawmakers, Awakening Foundation senior researcher Tseng Chao-yuan (曾昭媛) said.

The movement to legalize same-sex marriage has now received the support of 60 percent of lawmakers, with four different proposals being deliberated, she said, adding that this reflects a change in public opinion regarding the issue.

The committee’s decision was satisfactory, Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy Association spokeswoman Tseng Yan-jung (曾嬿融) said, adding that they had been waiting for such legislation for a long time.

However, there is a long way to go before it officially becomes law, she said, adding that she would continue to protect the rights of same-sex couples to have families.

Tong-Kwang Light House Presbyterian Church secretary Chen Hsiao-en (陳小恩) said she hoped passage of the bill would be smoother in follow-up procedures.

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