Taiwanese lawmakers will enact a separate law for same-sex unions after voters disappointingly rejected marriage equality in referendums last month.
The country’s top court ruled in May 2017 that restricting marriage to a man and a woman was unconstitutional, and that marriage equality must be legalized within two years, either through changes the Civil Code or the implementation of a separate law.
But Taiwanese voters rejected any changes to the Civil Code for same-sex couples in one of the referendums, put forward by anti-equality groups and held on November 24.
Taiwan’s ruling party said last week the referendum result doesn’t override the court ruling and same-sex couples will be allowed to marry under the establishment of a separate law, rather than a revision of the current law.
Referendums cannot be used to overturn opinions issued by the country’s constitutional court, which is the ultimate legal authority, Taiwan officials have said.
“We have to respect public opinion and abide by the referendum outcome. We have to revise a law other than the Civil Code, which is [to enact] a separate law,” Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka told AFP.
“As for the characteristic of the separate law and what it will be called… we will propose a bill that reflects and meets public consensus.”
Such a proposal received a mixed reaction from LGBTIQ rights campaigners, who pushed for the existing marriage law to be amended. Some say a separate law would effectively make them second-class citizens.
“The bill might be a same-sex marriage law but not in the civil code. [It will be] a separate law similar to the civil code, which will be better than civil unions but still not full marriage rights,” Marriage Equality Coalition spokesperson Jennifer Lu told Al-Jazeera.
Veteran LGBTIQ campaigner Chi Jia-wei, whose legal challenge prompted the court’s landmark ruling, said he would support a separate law if the government and anti-marriage-equality groups allowed it to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.