Taiwan to hold same-sex marriage referendum

Taiwan will hold a referendum on same-sex marriage, it has been announced.

The referendum, set to be held on November 24, will decide the country’s approach to same-sex unions in the wake of a landmark court ruling.

In May 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that gay couples must have the right to marry, giving politicians two years to introduce the reform through the legislature before the right to marry automatically comes into effect.

However, the referendum announced by the Central Election Commission seeks to throw a roadblock in the way of reforms by creating a new segregated form of legal union for same-sex couples, and reserving the existing marriage law for “a man and a woman.”

It comes after months of pressure from anti-LGBT groups, who amassed hundreds of thousands of signatures opposing the direct introduction of same-sex marriage through the Civil Code.

Anti-gay marriage protesters display the number of anti-gay marriage petition signatures outside Taiwan’s Central Election Commission in Taipei on August 28, 2018. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty)

The referendum proposal has been met with concern from LGBT+ activists, who fear that couples could end up with a “discriminatory” form of union rather than the right to marry.

Jennifer Lu, coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, told Reuters: “As Taiwanese, we feel sorry but we don’t have time and room for disappointment.”

The campaign against equal marriage was led by the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, which has stirred anti-LGBT sentiment in the country.

Their proposed referendum would “strictly define [marriage] as between a man and a woman.”

The Taipei Times reports that a separate question mooted by the group seeks to ban mentions of homosexuality in schools.

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