On November 24, Taiwanese will vote on a series of referendums meant to determine whether the country will become the first in Asia to legalize gay marriage.
The upcoming ballot measures are not what LGBTQ advocates had in mind when, in May 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court ruled that the existing civil code definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman was unconstitutional and gave the country’s legislature two years to enshrine same-sex unions into law.
Eighteen months later, however, this has yet to happen. Ahead of the upcoming elections, conservative groups have introduced three referendum items aimed at overturning the court mandate to legalize gay marriage, along with repealing provisions of the 2004 Gender Equity Education Act and banning “homosexuality education” in Taiwan’s schools.
Regardless of their ultimate outcome, voters will be asked to decide on confusing measures with contradictory language, leaving open the possibility that opposing results could pass. LGBTQ activists say this all would have been avoided had President Tsai Ing-wen and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) acted sooner following the 2017 court decision.
In the run-up to elections, the situation is only becoming more convoluted.