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First in East Asia, Taiwan parliament reviews same-sex marriage bill

2014/12/22 14:41:04

Taipei, Dec. 22 (CNA) A proposed amendment to the Civil Code that aims to legalize same-sex marriage became a hot topic of debate at a committee in Taiwan's Legislature Monday, marking the first time that such a bill has ever been reviewed at the parliamentary level in East Asia.

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Cheng Li-chiun, one of the lawmakers who proposed the draft bill, said in the session of the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee that it is the Legislature's responsibility to make changes to discriminatory or unfair laws.

"No one deserves to be deprived of their rights at birth to be on an equal footing with others just because of their psychological or biological differences," Cheng said of the current system in Taiwan, which like many other countries only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.

"If we cannot break the cycle of discrimination, then everyone could become a victim of discrimination because of their respective differences," she asserted.


[Groups supporting the bill demonstrate outside the Lesgislature. CNA photo Dec. 22, 2014]

Under the proposed amendment, the terms "man and woman," "husband and wife" and "father and mother" in the Civil Code would be changed to the gender-neutral "two parties," "spouses" and "parents," respectively.

Monday's review was only an interpellation between lawmakers and government officials, as the bill has not yet progressed to an article-by-article review.

The proposed amendment, which would legalize same-sex marriage and allow married gay couples to adopt children, cleared a first reading in the Legislative Yuan last year, which means only that it was announced and then sent to the relevant committee for discussion. Up until Monday, it had been shelved largely due to opposition from religious groups.

Bills must pass three readings in the Legislature before being sent to the president to be promulgated.

Members of the Taiwan Religious Groups Alliance for the Family held a press conference in front of the Legislature earlier in the day to oppose the amendment.

In a statement, the group accused lawmakers and gay rights activists who support the draft bill of "pretending to be civic groups" to "terrorize" other lawmakers with opposing views on same-sex marriage.

(By Christie Chen; click here for the updated story)
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