Taipei: Taiwan has rejected same-sex marriages, in a blow to the island’s reputation as a rights trailblazer in Asia. The referendum results came despite a high court ruling in March 2017 in favour of such unions that had given parliament two years to amend laws or pass new ones. Also Read - Over 36 Passengers Dead, 72 Others Injured After Train Derails in Eastern Taiwan
It was unclear how Saturday’s voting would affect the legislation, the BBC said. The government earlier said the Saturday referendum would not affect it bringing in the changes required by the court ruling. Also Read - Mukesh Ambani Now Asia’s Richest Person Again, Overtakes China's Zhong Shanshan
Conservative groups asked whether the legislation — defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Taiwan’s Civil Code — should remain unchanged, while the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists demanded equal marriage rights. Also Read - Whoa! Man Slapped with Whopping $3,500 Fine for Breaking Quarantine Regulations for 8 Seconds
Initial results suggested the conservatives received overwhelming support, while gay rights activists failed. The authorities now were expected to pass a special law, without amending the Civil Code. Campaigners fear the eventual legislation would be weaker, the BBC reported. One possible outcome could be that gay couples would be given legal protection — but not allow to marry, the Taiwanese media said.
At a news conference on Saturday, President Tsai Ing-wen, who quit as leader of Taiwan’s governing party after defeats in local elections, admitted that her party DPP suffered on key local issues. “Our efforts weren’t enough and we let down all our supporters,” the president said.
The marriage issue was part of three separate referendums on Saturday, which were put forward by Tsai’s rival camps. Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is set to lose more than half of the 13 cities and counties it won in 2014, the Taiwanese media reported.
Taiwan’s relations with China have deteriorated since Tsai came to power in 2016. Beijing has refused to deal with her because she does not recognise an agreement reached between the two sides in 1992 that both sides are part of one China.
Meanwhile, the China-friendly former ruling party KMT made a dramatic comeback, winning 15 of the 22 cities and counties in Taiwan. Nearly 21,000 candidates were vying for 11,000 elected positions, from mayors to city councillors and township chiefs.
(This is published unedited from IANS)