An estimated 100,000 people attended a rally in favour of equal marriage in Taiwan, ahead of a public vote on the issue.
Some of the proposals are pro-LGBT and would open marriage to same-sex couples, while others from anti-LGBT activists seek to “restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman.”
Ahead of the vote this weekend, the Taipei Times reports that an estimated 100,000 people attended a pro-equality rally on November 18, near the presidential palace in Taipei City.
The event was organised by the Taiwan Gender Equality Education Coalition, which urged people to “protect every family and ensure they are respected equally.”
“This is a pivotal moment for equality in the region, as Taiwan is set to become the first in Asia to recognize marriage equality.”
— Ty Cobb, HRC Global
Democratic Progressive Party legislators Yu Mei-nu and Tuan Yi-kang addressed the crowd, according to the newspaper, while musicians Amber An, Tai Ai-ling, Lotus Wang and Takki Wong performed at the event, along with death metal band Chthonic.
What are the Taiwan referendums about?
Nine separate referendums are on the ballot paper during November 24’s elections in Taiwan, five of which concern LGBT+ rights.
LGBT+ people and allies are encouraged to vote ‘no’ to propositions 10, 12, and 11, which seek to ban same-sex marriage, segregate same-sex unions, and restrict “homosexual-related education” in schools respectively.
Campaigners have urged LGBT+ allies to vote ‘yes’ to propositions 14 and 15, which seek to “guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married” and safeguard the status of LGBT-inclusive sex education.
American anti-gay activists have been influential
US-based evangelicals have flocked the country to lobby against LGBT+ rights ahead of the votes.
According to Taiwanese marriage campaigner Jennifer Lu, American activists from the National Organisation for Marriage were responsible for “instigating the three anti-LGBTQ measures on the ballot.”
Lu told the Human Rights Campaign: “Brian Brown [of NOM] has been here, working to galvanise anti-equality groups.
“Their materials are often carbon copies of the same messaging and scare tactics debunked and defeated in the US, Ireland, Australia, and elsewhere.
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“They’re trying to use fear to divide society, but their fear-mongering won’t work because Taiwanese society is rooted in mutual respect.”
On the side of equality is the “grassroots campaign unlike anything Taiwan has seen before,” comprised of LGBT+ activists and allies.
Businesses in Taiwan have come out for equal marriage
Ahead of the vote, 27 Taiwanese and multinational companies operating in Taiwan released a statement in support of LGBTQ equality.
The Taiwan-based signatories are 9floor, ALPHA Camp, Backer-Founder co.ltd, Bounty tavern, Canmeng International Inc., CASETEK HOLDINGS LIMITED, FunNow, Hahow, justfont.Inc, KUNNEX Incorporated, Morningshop, Oriented Enterprise Co., LTD, Pegatron Corporation, Portico Media, Proteinshop, QLL PTE. LTD. and ystudio.co., LTD.
The multinational signatories are Airbnb, Deutsche Bank, The Dow Chemical Company, Ernst & Young (EY), Google, HP, IBM Corporation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Microsoft and Oracle.
The Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, an LGBT+ group that is part of the equal marriage coalition, said: “We’re thankful these Taiwanese and multinational companies are speaking in one united voice in support of LGBTQ equality.
“These companies know that achieving marriage equality in Taiwan is not just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.
“We believe that respecting diversity and inclusion can bring harmony and strength to society.”
Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global said: “This is a pivotal moment for equality in the region, as Taiwan is set to become the first in Asia to recognize marriage equality. In order to keep the momentum moving forward, now more than ever, it’s important that fair-minded voices speak out and voice their support for LGBTQ equality.”