Taiwan’s government has put forward a draft same-sex marriage bill in response to the results of a referendum last year which rejected amendments to the country’s current marriage laws.

The new bill, titled “The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 748,” was introduced by the Executive Yuan on Wednesday evening, according to state media. Su Tseng-chang, premier of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, invited lawmakers at a cabinet meeting to discuss the draft, which includes stipulations on the conditions of child adoption and medical rights. The Executive Yuan approved the proposed bill on Thursday.

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File photo: Taiwan Scenery Gallery.

Over 72 per cent of voters of a multi-question referendum in November upheld restricting marriage to a man and a woman under the Civil Code – one of the country’s five main laws in addition to the Constitution – which would mean separate marriage legislation for same-sex couples would be required. The results dealt a blow to LGBT+ activists across the island, which had built up a reputation as one of the most progressive nations in Asia.

In 2017, Taiwan’s top court ruled it unconstitutional to prevent same-sex marriage and gave the government until May 24 2019 to either revise the existing Civil Code or introduce a new law to legislate marriage equality. If legislation is not completed before the deadline, same-sex couples will automatically be able to register their marriage under current law.

In a Facebook post, Madeleine Majorenko, head of the European Economic and Trade Office, said the office welcomed the proposal and “looks forward to the continuous advancement of LGBTI rights in Taiwan.”

The government will submit the draft bill to the Legislative Yuan for review before March 1, after which parliament is expected to vote on the proposed legislation by May.

Flag raising ceremony Taiwan Presidential Office
Flag raising ceremony outside Taiwan Presidential Office on January 1, 2019. Photo: Flickr/presidentialoffice.

An attempt to derail marriage equality last August by a coalition of anti-gay marriage groups stymied efforts to push through legislation. The groups put forward three referendum proposals: restricting marriage to a man and a woman under the Civil Code; preventing “homosexual-related education” in schools; protecting “the rights of same-sex couples” outside of the Civil Code.

All three proposals were upheld by voters.

jennifer creery

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.