Taiwanese reject legalizing same-sex unions in referendum

Taiwanese reject legalizing same-sex unions in referendum

Taiwanese reject legalizing same-sex unions in referendum

It asks voters about whether Taiwan should change its name at global sports events from Chinese Taipei to Taiwan, a move Beijing opposes.

A landmark court decision legalising gay marriage is still to be implemented and LGBT groups are concerned a referendum win for conservative campaigners could limit their newly won rights.

A strong showing by Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party in this weekend's local elections presents a major challenge to independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen as she grapples with growing economic, political and military pressure from rival China.

The elections for mayors and thousands of local posts were seen as a key test for Tsai's 2-year-old administration, which has been under relentless attack from Beijing over her refusal to endorse its claim that Taiwan is a part of China.

A referendum calling for marriage to only be recognized as between a man and a woman in Taiwan's Civil Code won more than seven million votes, while another calling for same-sex unions to be regulated under a separate law gained over six million. "Family values and inclusion of those values in the education of the next generation are mainstream public opinion that the government should heed".

Although Taiwan's constitutional court ruled to legalize gay marriage a year ago, same-sex couples like Chen and Lee are waiting for the legal system to catch up. The government had said the referendum results would not impact the court's ruling on same-sex marriage, but the results are expected to make it more hard for lawmakers to pass legislation.

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.

The government said earlier said that the referendums would not stop it from bringing in the changes.

"This result demands a response from Tsai, and the obvious change would be to emphasize the DPP's strengths and the things that got Tsai in", said Jonathan Sullivan, director of Nottingham University's China Policy Institute.

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Tsai told reporters that she would take "complete responsibility" for the defeat as chair of the party.

While they believe their island is an independent country and would like it to be treated as such, most people don't believe formal independence is achievable any time soon and prefer not to have damaging relations with Beijing. Significantly, it lost one of its most steadfast strongholds, the southern city of Kaohsiung.

Constituents shown in blue represent wins by the KMT, while those in green mean wins by the DPP.

The two sides have not talked since 2016 because Tsai rejects China's precondition that each side sees itself as part of one country - a process informally known as the 1992 Consensus.

Analysts were sceptical on Saturday night that Tsai would be selected by her party to contest the next presidential election.

Analysts said that Taiwan's sense of separateness from China was ingrained, but that voters wanted a cross-strait relationship that did not damage the island economically, a balance that successive governments have found hard to strike.

What next for China-Taiwan relations?

Accusations of Beijing meddling dominated Tsai and the DPP's pre-election campaigning as they accused China of a "fake news" onslaught, which Beijing has denied.

Taiwan's Investigation Bureau also said it is probing Chinese influence on the elections through campaign funding of candidates.

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