Taiwan's Cabinet Proposes Bill to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan’s cabinet proposed a measure that will allow same-sex couples to wed, defying a referendum that rejected making the island the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage.

The draft law would entitle same-sex couples to adopt children and give them inheritance rights, a government statement said Thursday. Premier Su Tseng-chang called on lawmakers to approve the bill by May 24.

The proposal comes as Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen works to rally public support before she comes up for reelection in 2020. Her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party suffered resounding losses in local elections to the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang in November, putting her second term in doubt.

Her caution on domestic issues including same-sex marriage was seen as a major cause of the party’s defeat.

Voters’ Message

A referendum calling for same-sex marriage to be enshrined in the island’s Civil Code -- which defines marriage as between a man and a woman -- failed to get sufficient support in a November vote. The result went against a May 2017 Constitutional Court ruling instructing legislators to legalize same sex marriage within two years.

Opposition to same-sex marriage gained momentum after the court ruling, culminating in the referendum organized by Christian groups that represent about 5 percent of Taiwan’s population. Its result wasn’t binding, but it created an issue for lawmakers who need to consider public opinion in the runup to next year’s elections.

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