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Group proposes referendum for special law for same-sex couples

2018/02/09 23:11:09

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) An activist group that wants to maintain the definition of marriage in Taiwan's Civil Code proposed on Friday that a referendum be held on whether there should be a separate special law for same-sex couples.

The Alliance for Next Generation's Happiness (ANGH) said it supports the legal protection of the rights and interests of same sex couples wishing to live together, and would back a separate law that covers those rights.

But it would not favor amending the Civil Code because it supports the Civil Code definition of marriage as an agreement between a man and a woman and does not favor same-sex marriage.

The question stems from Interpretation No. 748 of Taiwan's Constitutional Court, which ruled on May 24, 2017 that the prohibition of same-sex marriage in the Civil Code was unconstitutional.

It gave the Legislature two years to either amend existing laws or pass new ones to protect the marriage rights of gay couples.

The ANGH believes that according to an Aug. 9, 2017 Ministry of Justice declaration, Interpretation No. 748 did not change the definition of a monogamous marriage as a union between a male husband and female wife under Taiwan's civil law.

The group feels public opinion is on its side, citing a survey conducted by United Marketing Research in 2016 in which 52.6 percent of respondents did not want to alter the Civil Code's definition of marriage while 34.2 percent did.

ANGH head Tseng Hsien-ying (曾獻瑩) said same sex relationships can be governed by a special law, and 76.4 percent of respondents in the poll agreed with the idea of using a referendum to answer the question of whether to create a special law or to amend the Civil Code to resolve the problem.

Under Taiwan's recently amended Referendum Act, only 0.0001 percent of the electorate, or about 1,800 people, need to endorse a question to initiate a referendum and then about 1.5 percent of eligible voters, or about 280,000, need to endorse it to get it on a ballot.

A referendum will then be considered valid if 25 percent of eligible voters cast votes, and it will pass if a simple majority of votes back it.

The group did not say when it would want to hold the referendum or how it plans to get the necessary endorsements.

Taiwan received international coverage in recent years due to the possibility it will legalize same-sex marriage. If it happens, Taiwan is to become the first country in Asia to permit same-sex marriage.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and William Yen)
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