Drafting a separate law rather than amending the Civil Code to allow same-sex marriage would be more appropriate, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said yesterday.
The Council of Grand Justices is to start a review of same-sex marriage on March 24 and is highly likely to rule that it is constitutional, he added.
“No one in the DPP caucus is against marriage equality,” Ker said in a live-streamed interview with an online media outlet.
“After all, times are changing, and that is what I told religious groups that visited me,” he said. “However, how to execute it is a problem that the Legislative Yuan needs to deal with.”
Amending the Civil Code is an option, but there are many technical hurdles, he said.
“DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) has proposed amending five articles in the Civil Code; and DPP Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) has proposed revising four, while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Jason Hsu (許毓仁) has proposed 82. The New Power Party has also proposed amending 80 articles of the Civil Code, as well as revising parts of the Family Act (家事事件法),” Ker said.
“I once asked pro-same-sex-marriage groups to explain why there is such a big gap in the numbers of proposed bills when all of them are aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage, but they were not able to give me a clear answer,” he added.
Ker said the Ministry of Justice told him that revising the Civil Code to allow same-sex marriage would require amendments to more than 500 articles in 112 different laws.
“The legislature would be overwhelmed by these amendment motions and they would crowd out time for other pressing legislation,” Ker added.
A separate law could be a same-sex partnership law, a same-sex marriage law, a law for the protection of gay rights or even a partnership law that could also apply to heterosexual couples, Ker said.
A separate, special law would not be discriminatory as some have charged, he said.
“It would be an offshoot of the Civil Code, just like the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the Physicians Act (醫師法), the Company Act (公司法) and the Fair Trade Act (公平交易法), which are all special laws,” he added.
When asked when he expects the legislature to start tackling the issue, Ker said April would be the earliest possible time as the new legislative session, which is scheduled to commence on Friday next week, will first have to go through a general question-and-answer session and the confirmation of nominees for president and members of the Judicial Yuan.
“The Council of Grand Justices is to start a review of same-sex marriage on March 24, but will probably not issue an interpretation until a month later,” he said. “I believe the interpretation is highly likely to be [in favor of] the constitutionality [of same-sex marriage], and that would be a basic principle under which we could decide how laws should be amended.”
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