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September 23, 2017

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Misinformation abounds as fight over marriage equality rages on

The China Post -- The debate over the legalization of same-sex marriage has seen opinion broadly split into "progressive" and "traditionalist" camps.

While some who support same-sex unions have called for full equality, others have backed the creation of a special set of laws for same-sex couples.

At the other extreme are those who have called for the decision to be handed over to the public through a nationwide referendum.

Those within the traditionalist camp who back the introduction of a set of LGBT-specific laws say this method would provide the least legislative hassle by avoiding a toilsome overhaul of the Civil Code.

  But critics of such an approach maintain that it would codify discrimination against the LGBT community by granting them a "special status."

  Those of a more conservative tilt have called for a referendum to take place in the place of legislative amendments.

Taiwan Family (下一代幸福聯盟) recently released a survey that probed the population's willingness to see a referendum held over the legalization of same-sex marriage

Seventy-six percent of respondents said they supported holding a nationwide referendum on same-sex marriage.

Supporters of a referendum contend that a nationwide vote is the only "true show of public will," accusing the Legislature of "black-box operations" while attempting to legislate same-sex unions.

The organization's polls also indicated that 52.6 percent of the population opposed the bill, while another 70.8 percent believed legalization would affect family values in Taiwanese society.

Conservative parents' groups have alleged that the inclusion of gender equality issues in textbooks acts as an "incubator that transforms straight children into homosexual children."

The Alliance of Taiwan Religious Groups for the Protection of Family have maintained that legalizing same-sex marriage would lower Taiwan's already declining birth rate, as well as waste the nation's resources in the legislature and dampen the government's ability to improve the economy.

Fanning Fear Through Misinformation

 Sabrina Yu, a supporter of same-sex marriage, describes fears from opposition groups as "irrational." She said such rhetoric only "fans the flames of fear," warning of the potential for reprisals against the LGBT community by noting: "Fear is the root of persecution."

Bluence He, an advocate for marriage equality, said while he supports same-sex marriage, he believes there is still work to be done in eradicating discrimination against LTBT people.

He said that misinformation from those opposed to marriage equality was entrenching false stereotypes about the LGBT community.

  He recalled seeing a video of an anti-gay rights protester speaking at a gender equality public hearing in Taichung. The protester, concerned about the impact that the legalization of same-sex marriage could have on education, claimed that "there was even a hotline phone number in civic studies textbooks for homosexuals to find sexual partners."

"That's not a hotline for that, it's actually a hotline to provide resources for students who may be confused about their sexual orientation," He said.

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