Fri, Dec 07, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Referendum Act to be amended, bill for same-sex marriage due by March

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus is to form a task force to amend the Referendum Act (公民投票法) to close loopholes in the act, while the Executive Yuan is to submit a bill for a special law to govern same-sex marriage by March 1 in accordance with the result of referendum No. 12, the Executive Yuan said yesterday.

The decisions were made during a meeting between Premier William Lai (賴清德) and about 20 DPP lawmakers at the Executive Yuan, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said.

Discussions about the act touched on a range of issues that were seen in the Nov. 24 referendums, including whether proponents’ national identification cards should be checked during the signature-gathering process to prevent dead people’s signatures from being forged when petitions for a referendum are submitted; what the legal time frame is for the main proponent of a referendum to make a follow-up submission of a petition to make up for having insufficient signatures; whether the 28-day period during which a referendum question is made available to the public should be extended; and whether referendums must be held alongside general elections, she said, adding that no conclusions were reached.

The legislative caucuses have proposed three versions of draft amendments to the act, she said, adding that the final version would be decided by the DPP task force.

While all lawmakers agreed that legislation for same-sex marriage should be introduced by March 1, core issues facing the legislation remained unresolved.

These include whether same-sex couples should be given the right of adoption, how assets should be divided in a divorce and what the special law should be named to ensure a balance between the referendum and the spirit of the Council of Grand Justices’ Interpretation No. 748.

The referendum, which 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?” was passed, while Interpretation No. 748 announced on May 24 last year states that the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as “the legal union between a man and a woman” contravenes the rights of citizens guaranteed in the Constitution.

Participants unanimously agreed that the referendum outcome mandates the introduction of a special law, Kolas said.

The “same-sex couples act” and the “same-sex marriage act” were among the names proposed for the act to best reflect the wording of the referendum, she said.

While no decisions have been reached for the special law, the Executive Yuan would contact each of the 67 DPP lawmakers to ask their opinions and ensure that the law takes into account the referendum outcome and the constitutional interpretation, Kolas said.

Agencies would continue mediating between civic groups that are for and against same-sex marriage before the Executive Yuan submits a bill to the Legislative Yuan for review, she said.

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