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August 21, 2017

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10,000 rally at Legislature against gay marriage

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A bill that would make Taiwan the first Asian county to legalize same-sex marriage was stuck in committee Thursday, as protesters against the bill broke into the Legislative Yuan.

Late Thursday, lawmakers agreed to hold two public hearings on the bill before proceeding with legislative review.

Sit-in at Legislature

Earlier in the day, 10,000 people on Thursday protested outside the Legislative Yuan demanding a referendum and public hearings on the issue.

A small group of demonstrators scaled a wall and staged a sit-in outside the legislative chamber after officers prevented them from entering.

The rally was organized by Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for the Protection of Family (護家盟), a hard-line conservative group known for fighting effort to legalize gay marriage.

"How the law defines marriage should be decided by the entire population," demonstrators said, accusing the committee of planning a "black box vote" to pass the bill. The group said in a petition that individual clauses could be amended to protect the rights of the LGBT community, including ensuring emergency-room visitation and inheritance rights.

However, they added that "the fundamental concept of what marriage is — the combination of a man and a woman — should not be changed," saying that doing so would be "very confusing for children."

If no referendum were held, public hearings should be conducted instead before the bill moves forward, the demonstrators said.

Around noon, the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Com

mittee voted five to four not to hold public hearings.

Kuomintang lawmakers then said they would boycott the review process, arguing that "there is no room for discussion without public hearings." The rally blocked traffic on the main road outside the Legislature for over six hours.

The protest's leaders later addressed the demonstrators — who dressed in white and wore large stickers reading "Marriage and family, let the people decide" — from a temporary stage outside the Legislative Yuan.

The organizers told the crowd: "All children have the right to a mother and a father!"

A small, peaceful counter-protest was staged near the main demonstration, with supporters of marriage equality waving rainbow flags and banners reading, "We support gay people."

Marriage of 'two parties'

On Thursday, a legislative committee reviewed four amendments proposed by different political parties all aiming to legalize same-sex marriage.

LGBT rights groups, couples and supporters have urged lawmakers to pass the bill this legislative session, which ends in December but can be extended if necessary.

Among the four versions of amendments to the Civil Code, the bulk of gay rights groups support the amendment drafted by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Mei-nu.

Yu's draft removes the use of "male and female parties" in the marriage chapter of the Civil Code, replacing the term with "two parties."

Article 972, a key Civil Code clause governing spousal rights, would be amended accordingly to state that "an agreement to marry shall be made by the two parties in their own (con)cord."

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