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Taiwan referendum rejects same-sex marriage, disappointing gay couples

['Refocus with Gerard Veldhoven']
['Refocus with Gerard Veldhoven']

Refocus with Gerard Veldhoven

Taiwan was set to become the first country in Asia to adjust marriage laws to give gay couples the choice to be legally married.

The negative vote comes as a great disappointment to the country’s same-sex couples who wish to marry legally.

As well, this decision infringes on the rights of not only gay couples, but affects the LGBTQ+ community entirely. The decision by the government to hold the referendum, further demonstrates the lack of respect and the decline of efforts towards the LGBTQ+ population in Asia as a whole.

Of course, this does not come as a surprise, but reveals the fact that Asiatic nations are not yet anxious to embrace equal rights. They are not alone as revealed by the fact that out of 192 nations only 27 allow equal marriage. This number may increase in time, but will not be a world-wide acceptance anytime soon. Many will say that it’s not necessary to have same-sex marriage written into law, nevertheless, people should have the choice to marry, and that is of the utmost importance.

The vast majority of the marriages are performed as civil unions and is outside the churches.

Only a handful of churches will perform such ceremonies, so discrimination against gay couples remains a strong issue. Time will reveal when and where more countries will change the marriage laws to accommodate gay couples who wish to marry.

The Taiwan court had given the government two years to change the law, but the referendum decided otherwise. The decision to vote against the marriage was at the urging of the Taiwanese Christian Churches, which in fact only represents five percent of the population, but has a strong influence.

Chen Ke, a Catholic priest in Taiwan said, “This legislature has a choice to make”. He is a strong opponent of gay marriage. The government of President Tsai Ing-wen had proposed to legalize same-sex marriage. Apparently, marriage licensing offices face violation of the law by May, 2019 if they refuse to gay couples, this according to a Ministry of Justice spokesperson. A professor of gender studies and communication management, Shiau Hong-chi, “The referendum is a general survey; it doesn’t have strong legal implications. One way or another it has to go back to the court.”

The same referendum also suggested that schools avoid teaching LGBTQ education. By all accounts this issue remains unsettled. The Taiwan elections in the near future will also have influence as members of that government wish to be re-elected. Hopefully, the government and the court will settle this dispute and be on the side of gay couples and LGBTQ education in the curriculum.

We cannot take for granted that the outcome will be on the side of gay couples, and indeed the Taiwan LGBTQ+ community. As well, whatever the outcome it must be reinforced through time. The eventual result is not necessarily for all time. Changes in government, the courts as well as changes in thoughts may overturn the results of the past. We are fully aware of the Trump Administration making an effort to change the policy of accepting transgender members in the armed forces. T

he Pentagon insists there are no negatives at all having transgender people serve that nation. The point is that changes are possible in any nation and all it takes is a change of thinking such as the influence of evangelical Christians, or any other world religions where LGBTQ+ folks are reviled and punished. This may take the form rejecting equality, and even overturn laws that protect us.

This may be accomplished in our country depending on the government at the time. All we have to do is pay attention to leaders like Premier Doug Ford of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party cancelling sexual health education, and similar action is possible on the Federal level. Unfortunate!

Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in the Amherst News. Comments and information: lgbtconnectionsgv@gmail.com.

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