The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have been equivocating over legislation to legalize same-sex marriage as the Council of Grand Justices’ May deadline to amend the law nears.
As the DPP remains divided over whether to introduce a bill on same-sex civil partnership or marriage, the KMT said that its legislators are free to take their own stance on the issue, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday.
The Council of Grand Justices on May 24, 2017, announced that a provision in the Civil Code limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.
According to the landmark Constitutional Interpretation No. 748, same-sex marriage would automatically be legalized after two years — on May 24 this year — if the Legislative Yuan failed to legalize it by then.
However, the great justices did not specify whether the legislature should amend the Civil Code or introduce a separate law.
The issue has become more complicated since two referendums were passed on Nov. 24 last year to create a same-sex civil partnership law instead of amending to the Civil Code
Legislators would first study the Executive Yuan’s proposal on same-sex marriage and then work to reach a consensus, the Apple Daily quoted DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) as saying.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) last week said that the Executive Yuan would propose a special law based on the results of last year’s referendums and in line with the Council of Grand Justices’ ruling to be submitted to the legislature before the end of the legislative session in compliance with the Referendum Act (公民投票法).
A DPP legislator, who spoke to the Apple Daily on condition of anonymity, said that the draft bill “would not be too different from what people expect.”
A major point of contention is the name of the new law, he said, adding that government officials have been negotiating about the bill with civic groups.
The government has been “handling the issue of same-sex marriage in the way that most people want,” DPP Legislator Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳) was quoted as telling the Apple Daily.
The public appears to be split regarding whether the new law should be named “the same-sex marriage act” or “the same-sex civil partnership act,” she said, adding that conservative and religious groups continue to insist that no reference be made to “marriage.”
The party would do its best to communicate with those groups, she said.
The Executive Yuan should make clear that the bill has been drafted with the referendum results in mind, rather than based on proposals by DPP legislators, she added.
Meanwhile, KMT caucus secretary-general John Wu (吳志揚) told the Apple Daily that the party would allow its legislators to take their own position on same-sex marriage, as the party does not have a definite stance.
Although the Executive Yuan’s draft bill must be in line with the referendum results and the Council of Grand Justices’ ruling, there is still plenty of room for discussion regarding the details, he added.
While last year’s referendums favored introducing a special law over amending the Civil Code, some LGBT rights advocacy groups have said that they would welcome a special law, as long as it gave same-sex couples the same rights to marriage as those afforded by the Civil Code, KMT Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said.
The real challenge would be if conservative groups launched another referendum to replace words such as “partnership” and “marriage” with other words in the special law, she added.
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