Debate on same-sex marriage bill continues at Legislature

Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage rallied outside the Legislative Yuan on Thursday as a hearing was held inside the Legislature on a bill that would make Taiwan the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

As the hearing, which was broadcast but closed to the public, got under way, a “public hearing” on the controversial bill held outside the Legislative Yuan attracted hundreds of people.

The organizers of the outdoor hearing compiled records of speeches made during the forum and planned to submit them to the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.

Chien Tsu-chieh (簡至潔), secretary-general of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, said the debate on same-sex marriage was ongoing and such discussions would help to change public opinion on sexual minorities and garner more support for them.

Chien said the alliance plans to hold another outdoor forum when the Legislature holds its second public hearing on Nov. 27.

Meanwhile, Hsu Hsiu-wen (許秀雯), president of the alliance, who attended the Legislature’s hearing on Thursday, criticized the Ministry of Justice for supporting the enactment of a new law to grant legal protection to same-sex couples instead of revising the Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage and constantly overstating the difficulty of revising the law.

Hsu voiced her opposition to the introduction of a new same-sex companion bill, saying that to do so would run counter to the spirit of marriage equality as heterosexual marriage would be protected by the Civil Code while same-sex union would be covered by a different statute.

About 100 opponents of same-sex marriage also gathered outside the Legislative Yuan.

The rally was organized by the Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for the Protection of the Family, a hard-line conservative group campaigning against the legalization of gay marriage.

The group issued a call on Facebook for people to attend its rallies to prevent the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee from forcing the bill through during its meetings scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

The legislative caucuses of the major political parties agreed on Nov. 17 to hold two public hearings before continuing their deliberation of proposed amendments to the Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage.

The decision came as about 10,000 people gathered outside the Legislature to voice their opposition to the same-sex marriage bill.

At the Legislature’s hearing on Thursday, Rev Tsai Wei-en (蔡維恩), pastor of Kang-san Presbyterian Church, expressed his opposition to the bill, saying that the Constitution protects the sanctity of the family and the definition of the family should not be changed by a legal amendment but should be the subject of an interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices or a constitutional amendment.

Yen Cheng-fang (顏正芳), a professor of the Department of Psychiatry at Kaohsiung Medical University, said that people with different sexual orientations should be treated equally. She said that revising the Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage will help reduce discrimination, while introducing a new law could exacerbate the problem.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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