Taiwan voters reject same-sex marriage in referendums

26 November, 2018, 14:35 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Supporters of LGBT and human rights wave rainbow flags during a rally supporting same-sex marriage in Taipei Taiwan

"In the 25 countries around the world where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, people have seen that families are helped and no one is hurt-and the divisiveness and fear generated by opponents in Taiwan, leading to the disappointing votes today, will quickly fade".

Held alongside 10 referendums, the "nine-in-one" elections that selected candidates to run Taiwan's 22 cities and counties has dramatically reshaped Taiwan's political landscape as they did in the last polls in 2014. The election also saw voters reject a proposal to compete under the name "Taiwan" instead of "Chinese Taipei" in the Olympics.

Further controversy erupted on Saturday after Kuomintang's mayoral candidate in the capital of Taipei refused to accept defeat after disputing the results.

Huang Kwei-bo, political analyst at National Chengchi University, said China would likely see the KMT triumph "as its propaganda tactics being very effective", and predicted Chinese sabre-rattling could ease.

Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, said his government will continue to treat Taiwan as part of China and "resolutely oppose separatist elements advocating "Taiwan independence" and their activities", according to the official Xinhua news agency. At a press conference on November 24 announcing her resignation, Tsai said: "Democracy has taught us a lesson today".

Beijing has intensified pressure on Taiwan under Tsai, upping military drills, poaching diplomatic allies and successfully convincing global businesses to list the island as part of China on their websites.

Following the drubbing the DPP took on Saturday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Sunday stepped down as Chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party, while Premier William Lai (賴清德) offered to resign as Prime Minister and Chen Chu (陳菊) offered to resign as Presidential Secretary-General.

The largest city in the DPP's southern heartland has been governed by the party ever since 1998.

Wang Tien-Ming 57, and his partner Ho Hsiang 75 decided to tie the knot when Taiwan's top court ruled that same-sex marriage must be legalised

But some voters say worsening relations with Beijing have harmed business, while others believe she has been too conciliatory.

The KMT's strong showing was not necessarily a backlash against Tsai's policy towards mainland China, and may reflect concerns about Taiwan's economic performance and jobs, analysts said.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have heightened recently with China conducting military drills around the island and snatching away Taiwan's dwindling number of diplomatic allies. Ahead of the elections, Tsai's government had accused China of attempting to sway voters through fake news, which Beijing denied.

Ko, an independent, has reiterated his stance in favor of city exchanges in areas outside of politics and has previously come under harsh criticism from DPP and pro-Taiwan independence supporters for his description in 2015 of the two sides of the strait as "one family".

"I'm afraid it will be a big challenge for her in 2020", said Gratiana Jung, senior political researcher with the Yuanta-Polaris Research Institute think tank in Taipei.

Economic growth, employment and pension reforms were among key issues in the elections, which drew high turnout from the island's 19 million voters.

The Kuomintang once ruled China before fleeing to Taiwan in 1949 after losing China's civil war to the Communists.

The people of Taiwan voted to maintain the concept of marriage as defined in the Civil Code to be between a man and a woman.

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