DPP caucus seeks consensus on gay marriage ahead of legislative vote

05/10/2019 02:51 PM
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Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘, front)
Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘, front)

Taipei, May 10 (CNA) The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Friday that it will set up an ad hoc working group with the goal of reaching internal consensus on the same-sex marriage issue before May 17, when the Legislature is scheduled to vote on a series of gay marriage bills.

The "748 ad hoc working group" will be chaired by DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), a DPP legislator told reporters after a caucus meeting on Friday, citing Ker.

The group was named based on Judicial Interpretation No. 748, issued on May 24, 2017, which stated that the prohibition of same sex marriage was unconstitutional and that the relevant authorities must amend or enact laws in accordance with the interpretation within two years of the ruling.

While all members of the DPP legislative caucus are welcome to join the group, it should include representatives from northern, central and southern Taiwan, and lawmakers with diverse views on same sex marriage, according to Ker.

Three competing draft bills on same sex marriage, put forward by the Cabinet, DPP Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺), and Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) of the opposition Kuomintang, will be reviewed May 14 in the Legislature, which will then decide which one to put to a plenary vote on May 17.

DPP legislative caucus secretary-general Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) told CNA Friday that the working group will hold its first meeting no later than May 13, as the clock was ticking down to the May 17 vote.

While Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled that the prohibition of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, the electorate voted in a national referendum last November against legalizing same-sex marriage by means of amendments to the Civil Code.

In another referendum, 6.4 million voters supported the introduction of a special law to allow same-sex unions, a proposal that advocates of gay marriage said was discriminatory, while 4.07 million voters opposed the special law.

On March 5, a Cabinet draft bill titled "The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748" passed its second reading in the Legislature, and it is scheduled for its third and final reading May 17.

The bill would allow same sex couples to register their marriage or divorce at any household registration office in Taiwan.

However, in a conciliatory gesture to those who oppose treating same-sex unions as marriages, the Legislature on March 15 passed the second reading of a draft bill introduced by Lai, which would limit the use of the words "marriage" and "spouse" to heterosexual couples.

A third bill, introduced by Lin and proposing some limitations on same-sex marriages, passed a second reading on May 3.

If no legislation on same-sex marriage is passed by May 24, same-sex couples will be allowed to register their marriages under the existing Civil Code as it applies to heterosexual couples, according to the Constitutional Court ruling.

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


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