The dream of Taiwan becoming the first Asian country ever to embrace same-sex marriage as part of its constitution has taken a step back as Taiwanese voters rejected the legalization in a series of referendums over the weekend.
The electorate had decided 10 referendum proposals as part of the local election on Saturday, which includes five divisive ones regarding LGBT rights.
Three of the five referendums proposed which had been approved by the voters reads as follows: “to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman, to prohibit primary and junior high school pupils from learning about LGBT issues, and to introduce limited protections for same-sex couples that fell short of marriage equality,” according to South China Morning Post.
Each of these referendums needed a minimum of 4.9 million votes to pass, and they received between 5.2 and 6.1 million votes.
“The public have used their ballots to tell the governing authorities what is the mainstream opinion and the result represents a victory for all people who cherish family values and how such values should be taught in schools to the young generation,” said Tseng Hsien-yin, leader of the Coalition for the Happiness of our Next Generation.
Tseng went on to say that his group, Coalition for the Happiness of our Next Generation, as well as other family values groups would “see that the government revise or institute relevant laws and implement the relevant education guidelines for the school curriculums in line with the results,” SCMP reported.
They will also send their “drafted bill to the parliament as soon as possible for review and passage,” adding that the groups “respect same-sex partnerships and believe there should be a special law for them.”
As counters, two of the five referendums – “to rewrite the civil code to include same-sex unions and to include same-sex relationships in gender equality education classes” – failed to receive enough votes to pass, which only received around 2.8 million votes each.
“Our referendums failed not because only a few people support marriage equality, but because we had not been good enough at canvassing support in the way the Coalition for Happiness were,” said Miao Poya, who initiated the marriage equality referendum.
Saturday’s referendum would not affect the bringing of changes required by the court ruling, but campaigners feared that the eventual legislation will be weaker as a result, BBC reported. One of the possible outcomes to this is that gay couples could be given legal protections, but won’t be allowed to get married, as said in the report.
Nevertheless, Amnesty International is now calling the government to deliver equality and dignity, adding to the statement that the result was “a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan.”
It was announced last year that the top court had given the government two years to implement changes that will allow same-sex marriage.