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Same-sex marriage advocates do not want special act

2016/11/28 17:57:54

Deserts Chang (張懸, left), Lee Lieh (李烈, right)

Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) Supporters of same-sex marriage in Taiwan have demanded a revision of the Civil Code to legalize such unions, expressing strong opposition to a proposal to formulate a special law to make it possible.

Around 10,000 activists packed Qingdao East Road close to the Legislative Yuan on Monday when a public hearing was being held inside the building on a controversial bill that could make Taiwan the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

They raised posters reading "Human Rights Can't Be Reduced," and "We Want Equal Rights, Not Special Law," and chanted slogans such as "We Want True Equal Rights" and "No Special Law."

At a press conference that morning, same-sex marriage advocate Jennifer Lu (呂欣潔) said the issue concerning equal rights for marriage has been heatedly debated at the Legislature from one generation to another.

Now it is time for lawmakers to heed the calls of young people of the country, urged Lu, a senior researcher at the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, a civil group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

She pointed out that among the 113 incumbent lawmakers, 67 have said they support a bill to legalize same-sex marriage by amending the Civil Code.

Legislative caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and his opposition Kuomintang counterpart Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟), however, both oppose the measure.

In their support of the idea of formulating a special act allowing same-sex marriage, Ker and Liao are suppressing the voices of lawmakers who are inclined to revise the Civil Code, Lu said, urging the two senior lawmakers to treat the request by the country's young people with true equality.

Meanwhile, Lu Chiou-yuan (呂秋遠), a practicing lawyer and television presenter who specializes in family law, blasted on his Facebook page that the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage through special legislation is an act of discrimination.

"Such an idea is meaningless, but is full of the sense of discrimination," Lu said.

He argued that it is unfair to block "a certain group of people" from the Civil Code, which is a general law, unlike special acts that provide additional welfare benefits for certain groups of people, such as the physically or mentally challenged and indigenous people.

Echoing Lu, Tseng Chao-yuan (曾昭媛), a senior research fellow at the Awakening Foundation, said that a special law will offer same-sex couples with lower legal rights protection than what is stipulated in the Civil Code.

"It's like treating same-sex couples as secondary citizens," she argued.

Monday's hearing was the second of its kind after the legislative caucuses of the major political parties agreed on Nov. 17 to hold two public hearings before continuing their deliberation of proposed amendments to the Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage.

The same-sex marriage bill, which passed the first reading at the Legislative Yuan in early November, was set to be reviewed by the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee that day.

The first hearing was held on Nov. 24, in which the idea of formulating a special law to legalize same-sex marriage was proposed.

(By Wang Cheng-chung, Hsu Chih-wei and Elizabeth Hsu)