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Same-sex marriage bill passes first screening

2016/12/26 18:24:59

Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) The rights and obligations of marriage between heterosexual couples will apply to same-sex couples, according to a draft bill that passed its initial screening at a legislative committee, moving another step toward legalizing same-sex marriage.

Instead of changing Article 972, which states "an agreement to marry shall be made by the male and the female parties themselves," an amendment to the Civil Code adds another paragraph stating that "an agreement to marry between people of the same sex shall be made by the two parties involved."

"The bill will now be sent for cross-party consultations," said Yu Mei-nu (尢美女) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who serves as chairwoman of the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.

As the Legislature will go into recess soon before a new session begins in February, discussions on the controversial bill are not expected to take place until April or May next year.

Civic groups supporting and opposing same-sex marriage gathered outside the Legislature on Monday morning prior to the screening of the bill.

Yu and other legislators were greeted warmly when they met the civic groups supporting same-sex marriage following the end of the committee meeting.

"This is not the end of the world," Yu said, who was met with hurrahs.

She noted that the bill has not changed the part about heterosexual couples, and that the only change is that gay couples can get married, bear and raise children under the framework of the law.

"A lot of misunderstandings come from lack of knowledge," Yu said, adding that "everyone will be equally treated in Taiwan."

"This is a small step for the gay community, but a giant leap for the human rights of Taiwanese," Legislator Hsu Yu-jen (許毓仁) of the opposition Kuomintang said.

"The responsibility of the politicians is to complete the legislation quickly and give gay people the rights stipulated in the Constitution," said Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) of the New Power Party.

However, other civic groups opposed to same-sex marriage refused to accept the results of the committee, and said they will fight to the end.

The Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance (下一代幸福聯盟) called on the committee to suspend screening of the bill as they tried to push close to the front door of the Legislature, while shouting for the matter to be put to a national referendum.

Some of them climbed the wall to get into the Legislature, but were restrained by police.

The civic groups then asked their people to move to Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office for a sit-in protest.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Yu Hsiao-han, Hsu Chi-wei and Lilian Wu)
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