CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 11 November 2017

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Asia’s first brush with same-sex marriage

TAIPEI (UCAN): Same sex marriage hit Asia for the first time when the Constitutional Court of Taiwan ruled on May 24 that the current law banning it contradicted Articles 7 and 22 of the constitution of the Republic of China that guarantee people’s freedom.
 
It ordered the legislature to make appropriate changes to the law within two years.
 
Father Otfried Chan, the secretary general of the bishops’ conference, said he is worried that the ruling will split society.
 
“Many people still do not know what has happened due to a lack of consultation. During discussions over the next two years, many questions will arise as people become more aware,” Father Chan said.
 
Father Chan told a press conference he understands that many young people support same-sex marriage mostly because they hold a deep sympathy towards their peers.
 
“From this we can see that they are eager to create an equal, non-discriminating society and that’s very positive,” he commented.
 
“Some people think the Catholic Church is upholding old values, but truth is not distinguished by old or new. The Church is merciful and willing to reach out to people and is always open for dialogue with people, especially the youth,” he said.
 
Earlier in the day, more than 20,000 people waited outside the court for the announcement. Gay rights advocate, Chi Chia-wei, who launched the court procedure, said he is delighted with the result and asked his supporters to forgive and talk to their opponents.
 
Chi, the first Taiwanese man to publicly come out as gay in 1975, filed the petition after he was not allowed to legally register his marriage with his partner in 2013.
 
In 2016, debates in the Legislative Yuen had to be put on hold following massive protests from people on both sides of the fence. 
 
It is not clear whether a special law for same-sex couples will be introduced or the current laws amended.
 
Protectors of the Family, a coalition of religions and groups that oppose same-sex marriage, did not accept the court’s ruling. 
 
Andrew Chang, a spokesperson for the coalition, said it is planning to appeal for a re-interpretation of the constitution or petition the Control Yuan, which exercises supervision of the government, to impeach the grand justices.
 
Equal Love, a website that supports same-sex marriage, claims that a survey it conducted shows that 71.2 per cent of people aged between 20 and 29 support marriage equality.

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