Taiwan: Referendum results rejecting marriage equality a “bitter blow”

This result is a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan. However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail.
Annie Huang, Amnesty International Taiwan’s Acting Director

Responding to the results of referendums in Taiwan in which same-sex marriage rights and LGBTI-inclusive education in schools were rejected by voters, Annie Huang, Amnesty International Taiwan’s Acting Director, said:

“This result is a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan. However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail.

“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.”

Background

On 24 November, a series of referendums on LGBTI rights were held in Taiwan. Five out of 10 questions related to LGBTI rights and education.

Homophobic groups put three referendum motions on the ballot. These motions aimed to restrict equal rights to marry for same-sex couples under the Civil Code and to ban LGBTI rights education in schools.

LGBTI rights activists put up two motions – to legalize same-sex marriage under the Civil Code and require gender equality education covering LGBTI rights to be included in compulsory education.

The results of the referendums on Saturday indicate that the three anti-LGBTI rights motions were accepted, with up to 35% of all eligible voters supporting. The two pro-LGBTI rights motions received less than 18% in favour.

In May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court said that the current law covering marriage discriminated against same-sex couples. The court gave the island’s legislature two years to amend existing laws or pass new legislation to legalize same-sex unions. While the referendums will not change the need to provide legal recognition to same-sex unions, they do cast a shadow on how that will be implemented.

Ahead of the referendums, Amnesty International mobilized members and supporters from more than 20 countries to convey messages of support for love and equality in Taiwan.