Wed, Feb 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Legislator calls for separate law for same-sex marriage

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said it would be a progressive step for Taiwan to implement a separate piece of legislation governing same-sex marriage, as many of the nations that have such rules started with civil unions, which would be unprecedented in Asia.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Saturday met separately with groups supporting same-sex marriage and others opposed to it.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) quoted her as saying: “There does not necessarily have to be inherent confrontation between family values and marriage equality.”

Huang said Tsai asked Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) to help construct a “conversation mechanism at the Presidential Office level” that could continue inviting both camps to communicate further.

Chao yesterday praised Tsai’s move, saying setting up the platform would be a good start.

“My take is that even if [what we in the end have is] a separate law, it would be considered progressive, as no other Asian nation has similar legislation,” he said, adding that of the 23 nations that have legalized same-sex marriage, “21, such as France and Germany, started out with civil unions.”

“In other words, the definition of marriage was not initially challenged and changed; what was first put forward was measures to support and guarantee rights to those who wanted to form families and were willing to vow fidelity to their partner, be they heterosexual or homosexual,” Chao said.

If society in general still “cannot understand or is not yet accustomed to” same-sex marriage, what the government should do is probably “not challenge the definition of marriage in the Civil Code, but establish separate legislation covering civil unions with legal rights extended to homosexual couples who are willing to form a family,” he said.

Chao asked the Ministry of Justice to make the communication platform a “legislative paradigm,” rather than seeing people deeply divided and shouting denunciations at each other on the streets.

Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said that Chao’s suggestions “could serve as a reference for the ministry.”

Tsai made two directives on Saturday, Chiu said.

“One was that the discussion of family values and personal ideas of happiness is to be facilitated by the vice president; the other is that the ministry is to have legal experts from both camps discuss the issue via the platform set up by the ministry,” Chiu said.

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