Taiwan has voted against introducing same-sex marriage, and has instead voted to restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman only.

However, it is possible that same-sex marriage – or civil partnerships – could be introduced down the line regardless of the referendum result.


Taiwan votes against marriage equality
Chi Chia-wei (L), a gay rights activist speaks during a press conference in Taipei after the lost referendum (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty)

This is because Taiwan’s High Court ruled in May 2017 that not allowing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

CNN reports that there is “broad disagreement” among legal experts in Taiwan as to whether the government is mandated to make the referendum result law.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that Taiwan’s government clearly stated in advance of the referendums that the result would have no impact on the High Court’s decision to legalise it.

The result puts Taiwan lawmakers in a bind: they have been instructed by the High Court that keeping same-sex marriage illegal would be unconstitutional, but have been told by the country’s citizens that they do not want same-sex marriage legalised.

‘A bitter blow’ for Taiwan

Amnesty International Taiwan’s Acting Director, Annie Huang said the result was “a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan.”

Taiwan votes against same-sex marriage
Residents queue outside a polling station at an elementary school on November 24, 2018. (CHRIS STOWERS/AFP/Getty)

“However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail,” she added.

Amnesty International said the referendum results do not change “the need to provide legal recognition to same-sex unions,” however added that the results will “cast a shadow on how that will be implemented.”

Some are now concerned that the referendum result could lead to eventual legislation for same-sex couples being weakened.

US Evangelicals against same-sex marriage

US-based evangelicals reportedly flocked to the country in advance of the vote to lobby against LGBT+ rights.

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.”

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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.”

Taiwan votes against same-sex marriage
Chi Chia-wei (L) (CHRIS STOWERS/AFP/Getty)

“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 was the “grassroots campaign unlike anything Taiwan has seen before,” comprised of LGBT+ activists and allies.

Ahead of the vote, 27 Taiwanese and multinational companies operating in Taiwan released a statement in support of LGBTQ equality.

The Taiwan-based signatories were 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 were Airbnb, Deutsche Bank, The Dow Chemical Company, Ernst & Young (EY), Google, HP, IBM Corporation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Microsoft and Oracle.

People take part in a rally in support of same-sex marriage in Taiwan
CHRIS STOWERS/AFP/Getty

Just last month, an estimated 140,000 people took to the streets for Taipei Pride to call for marriage equality. 

The theme of the parade was “Tell Your Story, Vote For Equality,” with many holding posters and slogans asking the public to vote in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in next month’s referendum.




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