Taiwan Votes To Legalise Same-Sex Marriage
Voters across Taiwan are voting in 10 referendums, with five about gay rights including marriage equality, in parallel with local elections.
Gay rights groups initiated two referendums: one proposing equal marriage rights for same-sex unions and one on the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LBGT) issues in the sex education curriculum.
Conservative opponents initiated three other referendums: one to exclude same-sex marriage from the civil code, one to establish a separate same-sex union law, and a third to leave LGBT issues off the curriculum.
In May 2017, Taiwan's constitutional court declared that the Civil code could not ban same-sex unions and gave the legislature two years to grant full legal rights to such couples. The legislature has yet to approve marriage equality revisions.
Gay rights groups aim to make Taiwan the first Asian nation to legalise same-sex marriage.
A number of leading cultural figures, progressive priests and Buddhist nuns have joined them to urge the public to show respect to LGBT groups in the referendums.
Other referendums refer to nuclear power, energy policy, food safety and Taiwan's representation at international games.
Taiwan has had six referendums, but none of them succeeded.
The referendums on Saturday are running parallel to the island's local elections.
About 19.2 million voters above the age of 20, or 82 percent of the population, are eligible to cast their ballots in the local elections.
Simultaneously, 19.8 million voters above 18 are eligible to vote in the 10 referendums, which are legally binding. A referendum needs a minimum of 4.95 million votes in favour to pass.
In the last local elections in November 2014, the then opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won 13 out of the 22 local authorities, paving the way for chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen to win a landslide victory in presidential election in early 2016.
Taiwan's next presidential election is due to be held in January in 2020.
A controversial pension reform, economic difficulties and worsening relations with arch-rival Beijing mean that Tsai and her ruling party now face tight races in major cities, such as the southern port of Kaohsiung and northern New Taipei City, which surrounds the capital Taipei.
Taiwan is a self-governing democracy over which Beijing claims sovereignty.
Featured Image: Getty Images.