Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Justice ministry planning marriage bill

TWO DEADLINES:The ministry had promised a draft by the Council of Grand Justices’ deadline, but a legislator said the referendum results require action within three months

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang yesterday attends a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee in Taipei.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

A draft bill to govern same-sex marriage in accordance with the results of referendum No. 12 would be presented to the legislature for review before March 1, the Ministry of Justice said yesterday.

The referendum asked: “Do you agree that the right to persons of the same sex to create a permanent union should be guaranteed by an institution other than marriage as defined by the Civil Code?”

Responding to questions by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Lin Te-fu (林德福) and Jason Hsu (許毓仁) during a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) originally said that the draft legislation would be presented before May 24.

However, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) questioned the time frame, saying that according to the Referendum Act (公民投票法), legislation required by a referendum must be presented to the Legislative Yuan within three months.

Tsai’s original date was chosen based on the Council of Grand Justices’ Constitutional Interpretation No. 748 made on May 24 last year, which states that the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as “the legal union between a man and a woman” violates the guaranteed rights of citizens under the Constitution.

However, the interpretation had not mandated that the administrative branch deliver a proposal before May 24 next year, Yu said.

Should new legislation addressing marriage rights fail to pass before May 24 next year, same-sex couples could register for marriage with signatures from at least two witnesses at household registration offices, Yu said.

The interpretation’s final deadline and the referendum’s legal deadline should both be observed, Tsai said without providing a solution.

In response to Hsu’s question whether human rights could be decided by a referendum, Tsai said that human rights are universal.

Tsai declined to comment on whether allowing referendums on same-sex marriage was a mistake, saying only that the ministry’s goal has always been to protect human rights.

Unitarian Universalist UN Office director Bruce Knotts in his opening address at the International Forum on Freedom and Democracy in Taipei on Monday said that human rights issues should never be put to a vote.

The referendums held on Nov. 24 were comparable to laws passed in Nazi Germany, he added.

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