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Taiwan’s proposal of a separate same-sex marriage law angers equality campaigners

Taiwan's Rainbow flag

Taiwan’s government has proposed creating a special law for marriage equality.

The country’s premier said that the government would begin drafting a separate law which would recognize same-sex marriages in conjunction with a 2017 ruling by the country’s top court.

This comes after Taiwan voted against legalizing same-sex marriage by making amendments to the Civil Code in a referendum on Saturday, 24 November.

However, marriage equality advocates, who are still campaigning for full equal rights, have pushed back against the government’s proposition.

Activists say that by introducing a separate law for same-sex couples would effectively treat them as second-class citizens.

Civil Code amendments rejected

A vote on marriage equality was arranged following a decision by Taiwan’s top court in December 2017.

The country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the current marital restrictions were unconstitutional.

The referendum asked voters if they wanted to restrict ‘marriage under the Civil Code to one man and woman’.

Taiwanese voters overwhelmingly chose to maintain the Civil Code as it is.

A cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka, speaking on behalf of Taiwan’s premier William Lai of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said: ‘We have to respect public opinion and abide by the referendum outcome. We have to revise a law other than the Civil Code, which is (to enact) a separate law,’ The Japan Times reports.

Yotaka said that the government would abide by the Constitutional Court’s ruling when drafting the new law.

‘As for the characteristic of the separate law and what it will be called … we will propose a bill that reflects and meets public consensus,’ she added.

Hard-fought campaign

Taiwan is one of the most LGBTI-friendly countries in Asia.

The country is also a popular destination for LGBTI tourism and hosts the biggest LGBTI Pride festival in Asia, which attracts thousands of attendees from neighboring counties.

Many LGBTI rights advocates said that Taiwan’s rejection of the amendments was a serious step-back for LGBTI rights in Asia.

The vote came as a major win for conservative groups following a divisive and hard-fought campaign.

Anti-marriage equality campaigners spent millions of dollars on adverts and campaign materials to dissuade

Following the result of the referendum, same-sex marriage campaigners said they were considering legal action against the conservative groups.

The activists claim that the anti-marriage equality campaigners were spreading ‘propaganda’ at voting booths.

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Author: Calum Stuart