Same-sex marriage bill fuels hot debate

EQUALITY::Groups supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage said the right to marry is a basic human right which should not be denied based on sexual orientation

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Nov 20, 2013 - Page 4

Groups supporting and opposing the recently proposed same-sex marriage bill engaged in a heated debate at a public hearing held to discuss the proposed amendment to the country’s civil code hosted by legislators in Taipei yesterday.

The proposed amendments, which would entail the legalization of same-sex marriage, include the neutralization of terms that are used to refer to marrying couples, spouses and parents.

The opposing side cited “traditional family institutions and values” and “public order and morals” as basis of their objection to the change, with a lawyer surnamed Ren (任), from the Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for the Protection of Family saying that the laws that are designed for the “normal” should not be forced to apply to those who are “peculiar.”

A mother said she was worried about the education her children would receive in school if the bill is passed, citing a case in the US in which a father who refused to have his child taught sex education classes was ordered to stay away from the school.

“I don’t want to be the next parent who cannot protect their child from this kind of education,” she said, adding that the annual Taipei gay pride parade, with marchers wearing “weird clothing,” was “wrecking good morals.”

Another religious member of the alliance said that countries that have legalized same-sex marriage are “those that already have a fragmented marriage system and a high percentage of children born out of wedlock, whereas Taiwan still values marriage and family systems, with a very low rate, about 3 percent, of children born outside of wedlock.”

On the other hand, groups supporting the passage of the bill said that the right to marry is a basic human right which is not to be arbitrarily denied based on a person’s sexual orientation.

They called on people to learn from the US’ period of racial segregation, when African Americans were also said to have rights to education and to using public facilities, but “just that they had to ride in the back of the bus and be educated separately from the white children.”

Lin Shih-fang (林實芳), a lawyer from the Awakening Foundation, said laws are made to direct and reshape what used to be considered acceptable, such as polygyny.

National Chengchi University’s associate professor of psychology I-Ching Lee (李怡青) said that various studies have shown that gay couples are better at conflict-solving and their children are less bound by gender stereotypes and biases, “that, according to studies, can contribute to poorly developed psychological states.”