Supporters, opponents debate same-sex marriage referendum

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Supporters and opponents of a referendum on amending Taiwan's Civil Code to legalize same-sex marriage staked out their positions in a televised forum Thursday ahead of the vote on Nov. 24.

New Power Party Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (???) and Tseng Pin-chieh (???) of National Chung Cheng University's College of Law presented opposing views of the referendum, which will ask voters if they agree to use the Civil Code to guarantee the rights of same sex couples to get married.

The Civil Code currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, but Huang, a proponent of the referendum, said social ethics will not be affected if the Civil Code is amended to cover same-sex marriage.

He suggested that enacting a separate law to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples, as is advocated by anti-gay rights forces, cannot confer marriage equality rights promised by Interpretation No. 748 of the Constitutional Court.

In Interpretation No. 748, the Constitutional Court ruled that current Civil Code provisions that do not allow marriage between two persons of the same sex violated people's freedom of marriage and the right to equality as guaranteed by Articles 22 and 7 of the Constitution, respectively.

Huang said that because the Civil Code is the main law governing the family and marriage, it should be used to protect same-sex marriage rights.

He also disagreed with opponents' suggestions that amending the Civil Code to account for same-sex marriage would be complicated, saying it would only require changing five of the Civil Code's articles.

In contrast, he argued, establishing a separate act would be far more complicated and run the risk of missing important details.

Tseng argued that the constitutional interpretation did not specifically state that Part IV of the Civil Code covering the family was unconstitutional.

Instead, he said, the court found that the law fails to protect the rights of gay and lesbian people to live together, and therefore a separate act is needed to complement the Civil Code.

The Civil Code governs marriage and family relationships based on the premise of unions between a male and a female in ways that cannot be applied to same-sex marriage, Tseng contended.

That includes the presumption of legitimacy, he said, which states that the husband of a woman is the father of the child to whom she gives birth.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel