Religious groups appeal same-sex marriage ruling in Taiwan

Religious groups appeal same-sex marriage ruling in Taiwan

Taiwan women celebrating announcement of same-sex marriage. | Photo: Kassy Cho/Twitter

Religious groups in Taiwan have lodged an appeal against a court ruling ordering the government to legalize same-sex marriage.

In May last year Taiwan became the first country in Asia to give the green light to marriage equality. The Constitutional Court ruled Taiwan’s Constitution was discriminatory against same-sex couples. It ordered the parliament to legislate in favor of marriage equality within two years.

Advocates had hoped marriage equality would be legal by the end of 2017, but the matter has been delayed.

The most recent twist in the marriage equality saga is an appeal by a coalition of religious groups to the Taiwan High Administrative Court. They want the Constitutional Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage thrown out.

Led by the Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for the Protection of the Family submitted a petition to the court on Valentine’s Day.

It was their second attempt at an appeal after a court threw out their first appeal in January, according to a report in the Taipei Times.

Anti-marriage equality protestors stood outside the court. They held placards that read: ‘The gay rights movement is devouring Taiwan’. Another one read: ‘once these discriminatory laws are approved, people will have no freedom of speech and no religious freedom’.

The leader of the Alliance, Chang Shou-yi, said it was filing the petition because it believed the Constitutional Court’s ruling was unlawful.

‘The interpretation and the reasons given by the Council of Grand Justices in its ruling contravene articles of the Constitution,’ he told the Taipei Times.

‘Therefore, we ask the High Administrative Court judges to have the conscience and moral integrity to rule on our appeal through their own independent stance, and not to cave in to political influence and forces of intimidation, and to reach a decision conforming to the freedoms and values of our democratic society.’

Referendum on marriage equality

Unrelenting in its attempts to prevent marriage equality from happening the Alliance also applied to the Central Election Commission to hold a referendum on the issue.

It started a petition to hold a referendum asking: ‘Do you agree that the government should keep the current definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and pass a separate law to protect the right of a same-sex couple to live together?’

The petition received 3,549 signatures. The group needed a minimum of 1,879 signatures to be approved for review.

The Election Commission will now review proposal. If the proposal is approved it would need a further 281,745 signatures to become a formal referendum.

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