The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) will formally present a proposed amendment of civil code to the Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China September of this year. The draft is a product of three years of compiled research and discussions that includes proposed amendments on the topics of: same-sex marriage, partnership system, and multiple-person family system. From late June to early July of this year, TAPCPR and Jui-Chung Allen Li, professor at the Institute of European and American Studies and Institute of Sociology, Academica Sinica, conducted the “Same-Sex Marriage Legalization” public opinion survey. The results of the survey are comparable to findings of similar surveys of the past two years that show that more than half of the population of Taiwan supports same-sex marriage. Moreover, it is worth noting that in the past ten years more than one-fourth of individuals who previously opposed or had no opinion on the issue have turned in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage.
More than half of the population supports same-sex marriage
According to the results of this survey, more than half of the population (53%) supports the legalization of same-sex marriage, whereas only 37 percent oppose. These results are similar to the results of four other important surveys that have been conducted in the past two years. These other surveys were conducted by different organizations (including: TVBS, the China Times, United Daily News Vision Project, and the Academica Sinica Taiwan Social Change Survey), but all arrived at similar conclusions: more than fifty percent of the citizens of Taiwan support the legalization of same-sex marriage and support for same-sex marriage is steady and widespread. (1)
A pivotal ten years, a crucial twenty-five percent
To be sure, the people of Taiwan did not always have such a positive attitude toward same-sex marriage. According to this most recent study, public opinion about same-sex marriage has greatly changed in the last ten years. Twenty-nine percent of survey participants who ten years ago said that they did not support same-sex marriage or had no opinion on the matter have now become in favor of same-sex marriage. This shift in public opinion has resulted in a more than doubling of the percentage of same-sex marriage supporters ten years ago (twenty-five percent) to fifty-three percent today.(2)
The most important reason that survey participants have provided for this change in opinion is a personal valuing of freedom and equality: “[I] believe that homosexuals should have equal rights,” (76%) and “Every person should have the right to choose whom they love” (83%). It is thus evident that ten years of gay rights activists’ and gender educators’ advocating for change has led to remarkable shifts in public opinion (Taiwan held its first pride parade ten years ago in 2003; the Gender Equity Education Act passed in 2004 and has been law for 10 years). Participants who previously believed that homosexuality was “a bad thing” have turned in favor of the rights of same-sex couples to start a family.
Which individuals are most likely to be part of the “crucial twenty-five percent?” The survey shows that individuals are most likely to have an open attitude toward homosexuality and willingness to change from opposition to support of same-sex marriage if they are young and educated. Respondents are less likely to support homosexuality if they are religious practitioners. Seventy-eight percent of respondents between the ages of twenty and twenty-nine support the legalization of same-sex marriage. More than seventy percent of respondents that are college graduates are supporters of same-sex marriage. Fifty-eight percent of respondents without any religious affiliation support same-sex marriage.
In addition, respondents who supported the statements, “Same-sex marriage is a basic human right and our country should protect it,” “Same-sex marriage is a trend of the times and our country should follow the trend,” and “Same-sex partners do an equally good job of parenting as heterosexual couples,” are also more likely to change from opposition to support of same-sex marriage legalization.
The face of opposition: small in numbers, fierce in opposition
It is worth noticing that followers of the Christian faith are most likely to oppose same-sex marriage (58% of Protestants oppose; 75% of Catholics oppose). Catholics and Protestants make up only six percent of the population. Although this population against same-sex marriage is small in number, their force of opposition is disproportionately strong, revealing this group’s increased quantity of resources, positions, and opportunities to make their voices heard.
Since Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights announced its intention to present the amendment to the Legislative Yuan and continuing throughout the process of mobilizing supporters and acquiring support signatures, the organization has received many complaints and calls from members of these religious groups. These letters and calls show the church’s fear and lack of understanding of same-sex marriage. The church’s reaction also has shown its lack of hesitation to bring shame upon others or even resort to untruthfulness to instill society with fear and attempt to prevent sexual minorities from obtaining equal family rights.
When religious leaders incessantly promote the idea that Taiwan ought to maintain its traditional family values of “one husband and one wife, one man and one woman, and one life with one partner,” we cannot help but ask—with this understanding of “traditional family values” how can one make sense of the “non-traditional family” structures that have existed in Taiwan for centuries? When religious leaders attempt to criticize families with same-sex parents and repeatedly insist that only families with one father and one mother are “normal,” then how do they respond to the fact that the number single parents or grandparents that raise children in Taiwan increases every year? We believe that “non-traditional” families are by no means incomplete, lacking or abnormal. Rather, it is the government that has created a legal system that is not accommodating to these “non-traditional” families and has made their lives difficult.
Taiwan is a democratic country and is founded upon the principles that recognize the rule of law. The constitution ensures people the right to free religious expression and religious equality so that even if Christians are a minority in this country, the government still protects their right and freedom to spread their religious teachings. However, when Christian religious teachings and Taiwanese law are in conflict (ex: “The Gender Equity Education Act” explains that the government will ensure equal education rights for students who are sexual minorities and stipulates that all schools must provide gender equity education, which includes education about LGBTQ issues), we must insist that Taiwan is not a country ruled by the Bible and that no religious doctrine can be placed above the law. No religious teaching should prevent sexual minorities and members of “non-traditional” families from obtaining equal rights under the law.
The survey shows that thirty-five percent of Protestants and twenty-five percent of Catholics support the legalization of same-sex marriage. These results cause us to believe that many Christians do have open minds and believe in equal rights for sexual minorities. We hope that the religious leaders that so fervently mobilize their followers against equal rights for families of diversity will listen to the opinions of these supporting church members and stop stubbornly clinging to their bigotry and opposition to equal rights.
Jiawei Qi (祁家威) has been fighting for equal marriage rights in Taiwan since 1986. During the twenty-seven years that he has struggled for same-sex marriage rights, the government has always replied that “the issue lacks public consensus,” in attempts to free itself from responsibility. Ten years ago, equality activists were left without much authority because less than thirty percent of the country supported legal reforms. But after this pivotal period of transition, public opinion surveys show that a majority of the country’s citizens support same-sex marriage. As such, we no longer see reason for the government to postpone legal reforms.
In the three years of TAPCPR’s existence, the organization has finally completed a written amendment to revise civil family law despite limited resources. We hope that when we formally present the amendment to the Legislative Yuan in September, the members of the parliament will work together regardless of party affiliation to realize our dream of having a society where families and individuals of diversity are recognized by law.
Volunteers of TAPCPR conducted this public opinion survey at the United Daily News Headquarters using random telephone sampling. Respondents were all the age of twenty and above. The sample consisted of 627 respondents with a 32% participation rate. The final results have a confidence level of 95% and a 3.9% margin of error. Excluding individuals who did not fully complete the survey, the final sample consisted of 567 individuals and the results were weighted appropriately.
(1) In April of 2012, the TVBS public opinion survey found that 49% of citizens support the legalization of same-sex marriage and that 29% do not support it (1141 individuals successfully surveyed, ages 20-59); in August of 2012, the China Times public opinion survey found that 56% of citizens support same-sex marriage and that 31% oppose (852 successful samples, ages 20 and above); in September of 2012, the United Daily News Group Vision Workshop’s public opinion survey found that 55% of citizens support same-sex marriage and that 37% do not support it (1084 successful samples, ages 18 and above); in April of 2013, The Academica Sinica Taiwan Social Change Survey found that in a survey conducted between July and October of 2012, 52.5% of interviewed individuals support same-sex marriage and that 30% oppose (2134 successful samples, ages 18 and above).
(2) Compare to 2001 Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, Executive Yuan, in which 23% of citizens supported marriage or adoption for same-sex couples.
( Translated by Joseph Vincent)
Date : 6 Aug. 2013
News Release Contact: Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR)
Email: [email protected]