Taiwan’s highest court ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2017, giving lawmakers two years to pass legislation accordingly. The country’s voters, however, voiced strong opposition to marriage equality in a series of referendums this weekend, which will surely water down whatever laws are eventually passed.
In hopes of deterring marriage equality, conservative groups collected signatures for a referendum on the question, essentially giving the majority the opportunity to vote on the rights of a minority. While they were at it, they also asked about rolling back LGBTQ-inclusive sex education standards, which have been in place since 2004.
Hoping to counter those efforts, LGBTQ advocates launched their own referendums with positive spins on the questions and campaigns in their favor. As a result, voters encountered five different questions on the ballot Saturday related to LGBTQ rights.
— Freedom to Marry (@freedomtomarry) November 23, 2018
LGBTQ advocates suffered major losses once votes were eventually counted.
While the referendums are not binding, they send a strong signal to lawmakers to weaken whatever marriage equality legislation they pass as much as possible. Indeed, on Question 12, 61 percent of voters agreed that same-sex couples should be afforded a “separate but equal” status under the law rather than equal access to marriage.
Freedom to Marry, which continues to monitor marriage equality fights internationally, called the results “disappointing,” but insisted lawmakers are still bound by the courts to allow same-sex couples to marry by May of next year.
When that happens — in whatever form — Taiwan will become the first Asian country to legalize marriage equality. Until then, LGBTQ advocates will continue to fight an uphill battle when it comes to ensuring equality is realized.