Within the next 24 hours, anti-LGBTQ groups in Taiwan are expected to make a major announcement: They have reportedly collected enough signatures to put a referendum banning marriage equality on the ballot in November. Last year the Council of Grand Justices ruled that sections of the Taiwan Civil Code limiting marriage to one man and one woman violate the constitution. But unlike the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, the landmark ruling did not serve to legalize marriage equality in the self-governing Chinese territory. The court merely offered its legal opinion. Instead judges gave the legislature two years to either amend the civil code or draft a separate law allowing LGBTQ couples to wed. If the government did not act before that time, marriage equality would automatically become the law of the land.
Although lawmakers have yet to follow up by passing a same-sex marriage bill in the Legislative Yuan, critics of the ruling responded with their own proposal. Back in April, anti-LGBTQ groups met the preliminary requirements to begin gathering signatures for a referendum banning marriage equality.
The Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance — the organization spearheading the referendum — has been working tirelessly for four months toward that goal. To put an issue on the ballot in Taiwan, individuals or groups proposing a statewide referendum are required to gather 280,000 signatures. That total amounts to 1.5 percent of the overall electorate.
When INTO spoke to Jennifer Lu, campaign director for Taiwan’s Marriage Equality Coalition, on Thursday evening, she claimed anti-LGBTQ groups had gotten the signatures they needed to put the issue up for a public vote.
They gathered 700,000 in total.