Local entertainers voice concern over gay marriage referendum result

Taipei, Nov. 25 (CNA) The failure of a referendum backing the inclusion of same-sex marriage in the Civil Code Saturday has sparked concern among many entertainers at home and attracted attention from foreign media.

According to the results of the referendum, which was one of five relating to gay rights held alongside Taiwan's local government elections Saturday, 67 percent voted no to the referendum question: "Do you agree that the Civil Code marriage regulations should be used to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married?"

A second question: "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?" also failed.

Meanwhile, three referendum questions widely campaigned against by gay rights advocates passed.

In Taiwan, several entertainers who support same-sex marriage have expressed concern about the issue and showed their support for those who promoted the initiatives by sending online messages.

Commenting on the issue, pop diva Chang Hui-mei (???), also known as A-mei, wrote Sunday on her Facebook fan page: "In love, there is no winning or losing. Tomorrow, we will continue working on this....regardless of the difficulty."

Another pop singer Jolin Tsai (???) wrote on a Facebook post that "I would be lying if I said I'm not disappointed and depressed."

"We still deserve to be loved," despite strong objections and staunch bias against us, she added.

The post received more than 50,000 likes within two hours of being sent.

Also, on her Facebook, Golden Horse Award-winning actress Shu Qi (??) wrote "No matter what the results....," and posted a card bearing the words "love is love, equal treatment" along with a rainbow V clip, a symbol of the gay community.

Moreover, two members of the pop group S.H.E -- Hebe and Ella -- also sent Facebook messages to encourage the gay community. Hebe said "We still work hard and please keep going!"

Ella wrote: "We hope that everybody can love with all their heart and we can live in a wonderful world where mutual understanding, tolerance and respect are achieved."

A BBC News report called the referendum results a blow to the island's reputation as a rights trailblazer in Asia.

The results come despite a Constitutional Court ruling in May 2017 in favor of marriage equality and show voters backed the conservative "pro-family" groups, according to the report.

Taiwan is widely seen by foreign media as the most friendly destination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender visitors in Asia. The court also gave the legislature two years to amend the existing law or pass a new law to legalize same-sex marriage.

It is unclear how Saturday's vote will affect legislation, the BBC report said.

It noted that Taiwan's government earlier said Saturday's referendums would not affect its plans to bring in the changes required by the court ruling. The authorities are now expected to pass a special law, without amending the Civil Code, the report said.

However, campaigners fear the eventual legislation will be weaker.

One possible outcome could be that gay couples are given legal protection -- but not allowed to get married, according to the BBC report.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel