LGBT rights groups yesterday praised the Executive Yuan for adhering to the Council of Grand Justices’ Constitutional Interpretation No. 748, saying that the Cabinet’s draft bill on same-sex marriage is “viable,” but conservative groups said that it contradicted the result of one referendum.
“We are happy and relieved that the Executive Yuan did not concede to anti-LGBT groups, but chose a more difficult path: to adhere to the constitutional interpretation and grant same-sex partners the right to register as married couples,” Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights member Hsu Hsiu-wen (許秀雯) told a news conference in Taipei.
Before Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Wednesday evening revealed that the bill had tentatively been named the “enforcement act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748,” many civic groups had been concerned that it would be a same-sex partnership law instead of a same-sex marriage law.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
“The name of the bill is pretty different from what many of us had expected, as naming a law after a constitutional interpretation is unprecedented,” Hsu said.
An apparent attempt to reduce political opposition against same-sex marriage, “if giving the bill a neutral name could prevent unnecessary debate, we say that is a viable approach,” she said.
However, although the bill applies most of the marriage rights stated in the Civil Code to same-sex couples, there is still room for improvement, she said.
For examples, the bill does not allow same-sex couples to adopt children together and does not mention whether they can be considered “infertile couples” according to assisted reproduction laws, she said.
It also does not address international same-sex marriages, which are illegal because the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements (涉外民事法律適用法) stipulates that international marriages are only effective when both countries recognize the union, she said.
The alliance would pay close attention to the Legislative Yuan’s review of the bill and hopes to see it become more refined in the future, she added.
Veteran gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei (祁家威), who requested the constitutional interpretation, said that he was happy with the Cabinet’s decision, adding that he believes Su has a good chance to run for president representing the Democratic Progressive Party.
“Overall, I would give this draft bill a score of 85 out of 100. It is not an A plus, but it is at least an A-minus,” he said.
Legislators could make certain changes when reviewing the bill, but they should ensure that it does not contravene the constitutional interpretation, he added.
Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation convener Yu Hsin-yi (游信義) said that the Executive Yuan had ignored the referendum he proposed that opposed same-sex marriage.
The Cabinet’s draft aims only to implement the constitutional interpretation and not the referendum result, he told a news conference.
Yu’s referendum proposal stipulated retaining the definition of marriage in the Civil Code as a union between a man and a woman. It garnered 7,658,008 “yes” votes and 2,907,429 “no” votes when it was put to a vote on Nov. 24.
The referendum showed that more than 7,658,000 people believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman, he said.
To implement the referendum result, the government should add an additional provision to the Civil Code limiting marriage to unions between a man and a woman, Yu said.
“That marriage should be between a man and a woman, with one husband and one wife, should never be challenged,” he added.
While the Civil Code already states that “an agreement to marry shall be made by the male and the female parties in their own concord,” it does not constitute a clear definition of marriage, he said.
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