By Lee Hsin-fan and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writer
Two pro-marriage equality referendums are likely to be held alongside the local elections next month, after the Central Election Commission yesterday announced that they have passed the second-phase legal threshold.
The commission on Tuesday is to decide whether the proposals will be on the ballot for the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 24.
The proposals, initiated by Social Democratic Party member Miao Po-ya （苗博雅） and advocate Wang Ting-yu （王鼎棫） respectively, have gathered enough signatures to clear the 281,745 threshold for the second phase of the process, the commission said.
The proposals directly oppose three referendums organized by conservative groups and Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） lawmakers that have already cleared the commission’s review process.
Miao’s referendum proposal to legalize same-sex marriage under the marriage chapter of the Civil Code garnered 432,329 valid and 42,448 invalid signatures, 2,498 of which were forgeries and 44 belonged to dead people, it said.
Wang’s proposal supporting lessons on emotional and sex education and homosexuality through the Gender Equity Education Act （性別平等教育法） garnered 438,066 valid and 46,183 invalid signatures, including 2,580 suspected forgeries and 42 belonging to the deceased, the commission said.
The commission is likely to clear the proposals for the ballot box while pressing forgery charges against their organizers, as it has done for three KMT-initiated referendums.
Later yesterday, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights （TAPCPR） and other groups held a news conference ouside the commission in Taipei to express their “resolute opposition” to the anti-LGBT referendums initiated by the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance and other groups.
The Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance is associated with the referendums to legally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, recognize same-sex relationships by means other than marriage and to forbid mentioning homosexuality in gender-equality classes at elementary and junior-high schools.
The commission never should have allowed the three proposals, which are potentially unconstitutional, to become referendums, TAPCPR executive officer and LGBT rights attorney Victoria Hsu （許秀雯） said.
The TAPCPR said it has applied with the commission to establish offices to campaign against the anti-LGBT referendums, as referendum opponents are entitled to participate in the commission’s televised public forums and debates under Article 20 of the Referendum Act （公民投票法）.
“The TAPCPR is prepared to expose anti-LGBT organizations that espouse family values to mask their true agenda of discrimination and hate,” the organization said. “While anti-LGBT groups have better funding to buy ads, we will use public debate as our platform to spread factual information.”
Members of pro-marriage equality groups hold up banners with slogans at a news conference in front of the Central Election Commission in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Li Hsin-fang, Taipei Times