The reality must to be faced, the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy said yesterday, calling for the public and lawmakers’ support for gay people’s rights to marriage and family life.
The nation’s first lesbian couple married in a Buddhist ceremony which was not legally recognized and a lesbian mother who has two children with her partner called for equal marriage rights at the press conference, saying that while their lifestyles have been well received by their parents, the bond they have formed is not protected by law, a fact that might damage their rights to social welfare, property and could harm their relationship with their relatives.
Huang Mei-yu (黃美瑜), who married Yu Ya-ting (游雅婷), the group’s vice president, in a Buddhist ceremony last year, began her statement citing a suicide note from the high-school lesbian couple who took their own lives in 1994, which said: “We are not fit to what this society requires for survival.”
“Many people say they do not discriminate against homosexuals, but just object to the proposal of legalizing same-sex marriage,” said Huang, adding that the “but” in the sentence betrays itself. “Only people who are discriminated against can feel the discrimination.”
Huang and Yu said that everyday social activities such as renting a house, applying for a loan or filing taxes could become a hassle for a couple that is not lawfully recognized.
“If one of us passes away or has an accident, we would not have the same rights as family members,” Yu added.
The lesbian mother, nicknamed Da-kuei (大龜), said her partner underwent in vitro fertilization in Canada and gave birth to two children, and although they live together as a family, she is not related to the two in legal terms.
Her application to adopt the children was denied by the Taipei City government on the basis that same-sex marriage has not been legalized.
Citing Thomas Humphrey Marshall’s argument of an evolutionary citizenship through three stages — civil rights or equality before the law, political rights and social rights — Frank Wang (王增勇), an associate professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Social Work, urged the nation, as a developed society, to grant people equal rights to enjoy social civilization.
“And the family system can be seen as part of this civilization,” Wang said.
Citing opposition voiced by people who claim to want to protect “traditional family values,” Wang said there may be some gay people who do not want to get married, “but those who do are the ones who truly believe in ‘traditional family values.’”
Democratic Progressive Party legislators Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) and Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), the two lawmakers who proposed to legalize same-sex marriage in the legislature, were also present at the press conference to show their support.
“The right to marriage is a basic human right, not a benefit offered by the government, which can revoke it when it sees fit,” Yu said, adding that when the women asked for equal rights in the workplace in this country, an act for ‘women’s welfare’ was first proposed.”
“However, we insisted that it is the ‘Act of Gender Equality in Employment’ (性別工作平等法) that we need. Women should be seen as [acting] subjects, not [passive] objects,” she said, adding that the same principle goes for the LGBT community.
Cheng said that the proposal is to support the “enlargement” of the marriage system, not the destruction of it.
“The legal construction of a guarantee to equal rights can influence social values and viewpoints. People should stop evading the problem of legal discrimination by referring to an ‘unestablished consensus,’” Cheng said.