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Taiwan Christians lament new gay marriage law

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BP) — A Christian coalition in Taiwan is lamenting the legalization of gay marriage there Thursday (May 16), months after a majority of voters rejected such unions in a nationwide referendum.

Taiwan is the first Asian nation to legalize such unions. Parliament’s vote counters a November 2018 referendum in which 67 percent of voters rejected gay marriage.

Parliament was bound to change the law after the nation’s Constitutional Court ruled in 2017 that Taiwan’s civil code barring gay marriage was unconstitutional, and gave lawmakers two years to replace the code. But the November 2018 referendum against gay marriage was expected to influence lawmakers to approve the weakest law acceptable to the court.

Lawmakers “trampled on Taiwanese people’s expectations that a marriage and a family is formed by a man and a woman, a husband and a wife,” Christian leader Tseng Hsien-ying told New Delhi Television, NDTV.com. Hsien-ying leads the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, a group Christians organized to fight gay marriage in the nation.

Catholic priest Chen Ke told Voice of America (VOA) news the law goes against his religious beliefs.

“Catholicism’s definition of marriage is one man, one woman,” VOA quoted Ke. “Nothing else is marriage. We will respect the law, but it’s not our religion.”

The two leaders are among many Christians in the majority Buddhist and Taoist nation who have campaigned against gay marriage. Christians comprise about 4 percent of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people, according to the CIA World Fact Book.

Parliament passed the most extensive of three bills regarding gay marriage, NPR reported, adopting the only bill that uses the word “marriage,” instead of “same-sex union.” While certain rights such as adoption and cross-national marriage are part of a continuing debate in Parliament, the law establishes full marriage rights in terms of insurance, taxes and child custody, according to reports from Reuters and the Associated Press.

An estimated thousands of gay marriage proponents demonstrated outside parliament in advance of the vote, and mass gay marriages are anticipated May 24 when the law takes effect. Gay marriage remains illegal in mainland China.

Taiwan joins 27 other nations where gay marriage is legal, according to Pew Research. Marriage has been legal in Argentina since 2010, Australia since 2017, Belgium (2003), Brazil (2013), Canada (2005), Colombia (2016), Denmark (2012), England/Wales (2013), Finland (2015), France (2013), Germany (2017), Greenland (2015), Iceland (2010), Ireland (2015), Luxembourg (2014), Malta (2017), certain jurisdictions in Mexico (2009), The Netherlands (2000), New Zealand (2013), Norway (2008), Portugal (2010), Scotland (2014), South Africa (2006), Spain (2005), Sweden (2009), the U.S. (2015) and Uruguay (2013).

The Southern Baptist Convention upholds biblical marriage between one man and one woman for a lifetime, as stated in Article XVIII of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message based on Scripture.