Taiwan anti-gay marriage referendum ‘invalid’
A public vote in Taiwan to ban same-sex marriage does not override a court ruling in favour of equality, a senior official has said.
72 percent of voters in Taiwan backed a ban on gay weddings in a November 24 referendum, which was triggered by a public petition process.
However, officials in Taiwan have said that the result does not override a 2017 court ruling that said gay couples should have the right to marry.
According to the Taiwan News, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang said that referendums cannot be used to overturn opinions issued by the country’s constitutional court, which is the ultimate authority on matters of law.
The official said that the ruling, which found it discriminatory to deny gay couples equal partnership rights, “cannot be touched.”
The May 2017 ruling compelled the government to bring forward a law to allow same-sex couples to enter unions within two years, though it is still yet to do so.
Taiwan held five referendums on LGBT rights
Ten separate referendums on public proposals were on the ballot paper during November 24’s elections in Taiwan, five of which concerned LGBT+ rights.
Voters gave their backing to the three proposals put forward by anti-LGBT activists, which sought to ban same-sex marriage, segregate same-sex unions and restrict “homosexual-related education” in schools, respectively.
Two pro-LGBT propositions, which sought to “guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married” and safeguard the status of LGBT-inclusive sex education, were rejected by voters.
Two-thirds of voters opposed LGBT-inclusive education and same-sex marriage.
Annie Huang, Amnesty International Taiwan’s Acting Director, said: “The result is a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan. However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail.
“The result must not be used as an excuse to further undermine the rights of LGBTI people. The Taiwanese government needs to step up and take all necessary measures to deliver equality and dignity for all, regardless of who people love.”
American anti-gay activists were influential
US-based evangelicals flocked to the country to lobby against LGBT+ rights ahead of the votes.
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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.
“They’re trying to use fear to divide society, but their fear-mongering won’t work because Taiwanese society is rooted in mutual respect.”