What you need to know
Voters must offer the government guidance on marriage equality.
This Saturday, Taiwan will vote on no fewer than five referendums relating to gender equity and LGBTQ rights.
This situation is a far cry from the euphoria that greeted the Constitutional Court's decision of May 24, 2017, which ruled that a prohibition against same-sex marriage written into Taiwan's Civil Code was unconstitutional.
The court ruled that the government had two years in which to legislate for the change. Yet despite campaigning on the back of pledges to support marriage equality, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)'s government dragged its heels, and later the same year the legislature passed significant amendments to the Referendum Act that have opened the door for the country to vote on the issue once again.
President Tsai calculated that there is a greater political risk in upsetting the forces of conservatism opposed to gender equitable marriage, embodied by the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, than the community so ardently represented by 100,000 or so people attending last weekend's pro-LGBT rights rally in Taipei.
It is now up to the public to offer the government some extra guidance. As ably outlined by Tamkang University Assistant Professor Guy Redmer in a previous News Lens article, the questions at stake break down as follows:
"There are two proposals submitted by groups against same-sex marriage. One asks voters if they want to keep the Civil Code wording of ‘man and woman’ unchanged. Another proposal essentially calls for a separate law codifying same sex partnerships. Same-sex activists have responded with their own competing proposal which calls for the Civil Code to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage."
Otherwise, there are two opposing proposals regarding education. Redmer writes: "One asks voters if they agree that homosexual content should not be taught in schools, at least for elementary and junior high school levels. The other asks: 'Do you agree that gender equity education as defined in ‘the Gender Equity Education Act’ should be taught at all stages of the national curriculum and that such education should cover courses on emotional education, sex education and gay and lesbian education?'"
The Tsai administration's spineless inability to do the right thing, the thing once promised and then constitutionally provided for, thus opens the door to constitutional rupture. Given that only 25 percent of the electorate needs to vote on a proposal for it to be considered valid, there is a real chance that both pro- and anti-LGBT rights ballots pass. Such an eventuality would require moral leadership as opposed to just political acumen.
The final pane of the glass ceiling is there to be shattered. Here's hoping that the voters save Tsai and her team their blushes.
Read Next: INTERVIEW: Ellery & Yolanda on Dragging Taiwan Towards LGBT Acceptance
Editor: David Green (@DavidPeterGreen)
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