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Tens of thousands take to streets to oppose gay marriage (update)

2013/11/30 21:36:26

Taipei, Nov. 30 (CNA) Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei Saturday to oppose same-sex marriage and proposed changes to partnership rights, in response to a recent law amendment proposal that seeks to legalize such unions in Taiwan.

The demonstrators, many of whom were parents and children, crowded Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office, raising pink placards that read "Made by Daddy and Mommy," "Defend Marriage" and "Oppose Amendment to Civil Code Article 972," which states that an agreement to marry shall be made by the "male" and "female" parties in a relationship.

The Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, one of the organizers of the event, argues that allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children will encourage "sexual liberation," undermine traditional family values and confuse gender roles for children.

Any changes to the marriage system should be put to a national referendum, the coalition said.

"God created human beings as male and female. Only the union of a man and a woman can create the next generation, and the ability to create offspring is an important function of a family," said 40-year-old Ann Huang, who joined the rally with her friends.

"We respect them (gays), but it doesn't mean they are right," said Maggie Chu, 62.

Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien and several lawmakers were among the marchers in the largest rally against same-sex marriage in Taiwan in recent years.

Just a few blocks away, over 500 people held pink placards reading "equal marriage rights" in front of the Legislative Yuan to support same-sex marriage and other changes to partnership rights at an event organized by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights.

"They (the opposers) argue that if gay couples are allowed to get married and raise children, their children will become gay too. Doesn't that mean you already think gays are inferior people, so you don't want your children to become gay?" asked Shih Chao-hwei, a Buddhist master and professor at Hsuan Chuang University who presided over Taiwan's first Buddhist gay wedding last year.

One 33-year-old man who identified himself only by his Internet handle XXXXCAT, said he believes people who oppose gay marriage do so out of a lack of understanding of the gay community.

"They don't understand us, so they fear us. But we are just like anyone else. The only difference is we like people of the same gender," he said.

Tsan Tsong-sheng, an associate professor at the Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, also supported same-sex marriage, saying that it is "unfair and unjust" for marriage to exclude two individuals who love each other just because they are not heterosexual.

Meanwhile, officials from the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights said they oppose putting the topic to a referendum as it regards the law as "restriction and denial of basic rights for minorities."

Saturday's rallies were a response to a Civil Code amendment proposal launched by the alliance last month that would legalize same-sex marriage and allow married gay couples to adopt children.

It reached the Legislative Yuan in early October, passed the first reading Oct. 25 and was sent to the Legislature's Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee for review.

The proposal is one of three put forward by the civil partnership alliance.

Two other proposals seek to establish a civil partnership system and a system that would recognize multiple unrelated people as a family unit. Both amendment proposals are still collecting signatures of support and have yet to enter the Legislative Yuan.

(By Christie Chen)