Residents of Taiwan had an opportunity to officially embrace same-sex marriage, which would have made the state the first in Asia to do so… but they failed miserably.
The Taiwanese people actually had multiple opportunities to side with LGBTQ+ people, but their recent elections show that they chose intolerance at every turn.
Three referendum questions initiated by groups that opposed marriage equality passed, while those put forth by same-sex marriage advocates did not.
For instance, the majority vote was yes on a question that asked, “Do you agree that Civil Code regulations should restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman?”
Voters, meanwhile, rejected a question put forth by LGBT activists that asked if civil code marriage regulations “should be used to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married.”
The results make it clear that there are still places in the world where voting against human rights is the norm. Even though same-sex marriage has been legal in many parts of the world, with no negative repercussions outside the expected whines of religious conservatives, bigotry still won out in Taiwan.
Advocacy groups are understandably upset, yet they aren’t giving up on marriage equality on the Asian island.
Amnesty International Taiwan’s Acting Director Annie Huang called the result “a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights” on the island.
“However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail,” Huang said in a statement. “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.”
The worst part of all this is that the voters effectively undid a ruling from the Supreme Court, which had ruled in favor of marriage equality. The court said the government had to legalize gay unions, but politicians failed to reach an agreement, which is why it was put to voters.
The vote comes after Taiwan’s high court passed a resolution in May 2017 ruling it was unconstitutional to ban same-sex couples from getting married.
The ruling was seen as a rare beam of light in a region infamous for its repression of LGBT people.
The ruling gave Taiwanese lawmakers a two-year deadline to enshrine marriage equality into law, but the government reached a deadlock.
With the government stuck, Taiwan’s conservatives saw an opportunity to use the newly revised referendum law — under which any suggested question that gets a minimum of 280,000 signatures must be put to the people — to stall same-sex marriage.
It’s a tactic that’s as unsurprising as it is infuriating. You would hope nations that aren’t theocracies would’ve found a way to support basic decency by now. But the path to civil rights is neither quick nor easy.
(Image via Shutterstock)