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July 24, 2017

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Taipei sees conflicting same-sex marriage protests

TAIPEI--Taipei's Freedom Square lived up to its name Sunday, when groups supporting and opposing legalization of same-sex marriage held separate rallies in support of their respective causes.

Despite their opposite natures, the two groups advocated their respective stances mostly peacefully, though media reports said there were "several incidents of pushing" in the crowded public plaza.

The Taiwan Happy Family Alliance, a group comprised largely of Christian churches, claimed that 20,000 opponents to same-sex marriage showed up to its rally at the square in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Campaigners called for families made up of "one man and one woman; one wife and one husband," saying it was the recipe for a happy family.

Organizers also urged the "recovery of the father's role and importance in the family" and encouraged families to have more children, warning that otherwise, "happy families could become an endangered species like the panda."

They were met by supporters of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, who marched from the Legislative Yuan nearly a kilometer away to call for marriage equality.

The Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, which provides counseling to the local LGBT community, argued that no matter how a family is made up, the pursuit of happiness is a common goal. The group urged the country to accept and protect its "diverse families."

Gay marriage has been a major topic of discussion since a draft bill that would legalize same-sex marriage passed a first reading of the Legislative Yuan on Dec. 25 last year.

If it passes a third reading, the bill will change all legal references to marriage to be gender-neutral, with terms like "husband and wife" becoming "spouse."

The bill leaves the rights and obligations of spouses in marriage unchanged.

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