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September 25, 2017

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Backpedaling on same sex marriage? What did the president actually say?

A gay rights activist accused President Tsai Ing-wen of backpedaling on her past support for legalizing gay marriage, saying she had told him recently, "In this life, you may probably not live to see same-sex marriage."

Vincent Huang, who participated in a discussion with Tsai at the Presidential Office on Feb. 18, made the claim on Facebook.

The Presidential Office rushed to deny his account of the event, releasing partial transcripts of last week's dialogue.

According to Huang, he told the president that gay couples feared their elderly parents would not see the day when their gay and lesbian children could get married.

Huang said Tsai had responded, "In this life, you may probably not live to see same-sex marriage."

Presidential Office's Transcript

Denying Huang's claims, the Presidential Office on Saturday made public a portion of the transcript, which included the disputed dialogue between Huang and Tsai. The transcript is translated below:

President Tsai: "The wait has already gone to this point -- it should not be ruined at this last stage. If one has waited this long, but because there wasn't patience at the last moment thus destroying all the efforts in the past, I know that this is the hardest point in time…(interrupted)."

Huang: "But our lives can't be put on hold."

President Tsai: "I know, but even if you can't put your lives on hold you need to consider the future of other people as well and think of them as well."

Huang: "You support me and I'd be willing to take a bullet for you."

President Tsai: "That's OK. But, actually when I was passing out red envelopes recently, young people told me: 'I want to get married this year. As president, don't you feel in your heart the need to fulfill that?' But really, this is not something that we can reach today in just one step. It's a long road and it's going to get harder and harder along the way."

Presidential spokesman Alex Huang told reporters that the meeting participants had agreed to not publicize the details of what was said during the meeting at the Presidential Office.

He said the Presidential Office had decided to release the transcript excerpt after "the memory and understanding" of Vincent Huang and the President contained "differences," adding that the transcript was published to allow dialogue to continue in the future.

Huang Shang-wen, leader of a LGBT advocacy group, said Sunday that Vincent Huang's interpretation of what happened during the discussions was "understandable."

Huang Shang-wen said that the rulings party's move to not prioritize the revision of the Civil Code during the current legislative session was causing "anxiety" among LGBT groups.

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