Taiwan will officially sound off on marriage equality after election officials certified signatures to get a national referendum on the November ballot.
On Tuesday, representatives with the Central Election Commission (CEC) confirmed to Reuters that petitions calling for a plebiscite vote on banning same-sex marriage were accepted. In August, INTO was the first to report that signature gatherers with the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, a conservative, anti-LGBTQ group, had crossed the necessary threshold of 280,000 signatures to put the issue up for public consideration.
After previous referendum campaigns were criticized for signing the names of dead people to petitions, election officials spent six weeks combing through the 700,000 signatures submitted to the commission.
Enough were deemed valid to allow the referendum to move forward.
In November, voters will now be tasked with weighing in on three different proposals put forward by petitioners. The first asks voters whether the Taiwanese should ban same-sex marriages under its Civil Code. Currently, Article 971 defines marriage as “an agreement… made by the male and the female parties in their own concord.”
The second would create a separate law offering some relationship recognition to same-sex couples, similar to domestic partnerships or civil unions. The last asks whether educators should teach LGBTQ-inclusive curricula in schools.
Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance claimed these issues impact “Taiwan’s moral principles and family values.”
In June 2017, Taiwan became the first Asian municipality to move toward full legal recognition after its constitutional court ruled that prohibitions on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Although the decision did not serve to automatically legalize marriage equality, judges called the freedom to marry a “fundamental right” in an 11-page ruling.
But if voters reject marriage equality next month, Taiwan could also claim the dubious honor of being the first Asian locality to ban same-sex unions at the ballot box.
While election day is more than 44 days away, early indications suggest it’s unlikely Taiwanese citizens will choose to overturn the court’s marriage equality ruling. In a poll of over 200,000 people conducted by the Ministry of Justice in 2015, nearly 71 percent favored legalizing same-sex partnerships.
The almost three-quarters of Taiwanese who support marriage equality may also have the chance to sound off on their own plebiscite next month.
According to Taiwan News, LGBTQ advocates responded to the anti-equality campaign by putting forward their own referenda. The first would ask voters if they “agree” that same-sex marriages should be legalized as part of the Civil Code. The second would affirm that LGBTQ related topics should be taught under the Gender Equality Education Act.
Essentially, these referenda invert the conservative proposals in order to affirm the local queer and trans communities.
The Central Election Commission confirmed earlier this week that more than 438,000 people signed on to support the pro-LGBTQ campaign. Officials are expected to validate the final tally on Tuesday.
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