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Competing same-sex marriage bill proceeds to second reading

2019/03/15 20:28:20

Taipei, March 15 (CNA) Taiwan's Legislature on Friday voted to send a draft bill that would limit the use of the words "marriage" and "spouse" to heterosexual couples to a second reading, where the bill will be reviewed together with another one that would legalize same-sex marriage.

Entitled "The Enforcement Act of Referendum No. 12," the bill was proposed by Kuomintang lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆). The New Power Party attempted to block the bill by proposing sending it back to the Procedure Committee but failed to secure enough votes.

Bills in Taiwan have to complete second and third readings by the full Legislature before becoming law.

Under the Legislative Yuan Functioning Act, the high-profile bill will first be "frozen" for one month during which time the ruling and opposition parties will engage in negotiations before the bill's second and third readings.

The bill was drafted in response to the passing on Nov. 24, 2018 of referendum No. 12, which asked, "Do you agree to types of unions, other than those stated in the marriage regulations in the Civil Code, to protect the rights of same-sex couples who live together permanently?"

The bill, deemed by many to run counter to "The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748," maintains the concept of marriage as defined in the Civil Code as being between a man and a woman.

Under the bill, same-sex couple can apply for joint guardianship over the child of one partner.

The Legislature on March 5 voted to send "The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748" to a second reading, which would allow gay couples to register their marriage or divorce at any household registration office.

The bill was drafted in line with a Constitutional Court ruling issued on May 24, 2017, which stated that the prohibition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and that the relevant authorities must amend or enact laws in accordance with the court's interpretation within two years.

The draft legislation also prescribes that the rights and duties granted to married couples, as stipulated in the Civil Code, also apply to married same-sex couples.

Gay couples will be allowed to adopt the biological children of their partner, the bill states.

Anti-same-sex marriage campaigner Tseng Hsien-ying (曾獻瑩) held a press conference outside the Legislative Yuan giving her recognition to the new bill, while urging the ruling party not to go against the results of the 2018 referendum by insisting on pushing forward a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan said "The Enforcement Act of Referendum No. 12" diverges from the Constitutional Court ruling in 2017.

The coalition called for legislators to act in accordance with the Constitution and support "The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748."

(By Wang Yang-yu, Chen Chun-hua and Chung Yu-chen)