LAW BY NUMBERS: The protesters called on Yu Mei-nu to resign and demanded that public opinion be used to decide whether homosexual marriage is allowed
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporter
More than 60 protesters yesterday broke through the Legislative Yuan gates in Taipei and staged a sit-in, while thousands protested outside as lawmakers reviewed a bill that aims to legalize same-sex marriage.
The protesters rushed through a side gate on Jinan Road after it was scaled and opened by several of the protesters, sparking a wave of people, who reached the outside of the Legislative Yuan’s assembly hall before the access point was closed and those inside were surrounded by police officers, sparking a brief standoff.
“Normally we are the most law-abiding of people, but we will break in if forced,” a man shouted as the protesters called for the resignation of Democratic Progressive Party （DPP） Legislator Yu Mei-nu （尤美女）, the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee coconvener, and threatened to charge police lines unless Yu received their petition and agreed to hold public hearings before beginning the review of the legislation.
“We’re here because we saw on the video live stream that Yu is seeking to railroad the legislation through and completely ignore our views,” a man surnamed Shih （施） said.
“We demand that the Democratic Progressive Party listen to us and we will stay here until they do,” Shih said.
“We demand that they listen to public opinion and let all the people participate in this decision, not just a few committee members,” he said.
“We are not partisan — all that we demand is that legislators represent us and if they do not, we demand that they step down,” a woman surnamed Liu （劉） said.
The mood of the protesters inside the compound gradually calmed as they accepted bottles of water offe吉安勞工貸款red by police officers and they settled into a largely quiet sit-in outside of the assembly hall doors.
Several rows of the protesters fell to their knees in prayer, with occasional “speaking in tongues” and cries of “praise the lord” audible throughout the sit-in.
“We only took these measures because we’ve already petitioned and called the offices of numerous legislators, but President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） has dared to say that she is not aware of any opposition,” a woman surnamed Lee （李） said, blaming Yu’s attitude while conducting yesterday’s review for the protest.
“She was extremely arrogant in convening the meeting and paid absolutely no attention to us,” Lee said, adding that the charge into the legislative compound had been sparked when Yu rejected advice from the Ministry of Justice, which said the review should be extended because of the great number of legal articles that would be affected by the proposal to change the legal definition of marriage.
Lee said that she had not intended to charge into the compound, but was swept up in the crowd.
Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） caucus convener Sufin Siluko （廖國棟） met with the demonstrators repeatedly to listen to their demands, before returning to the committee meeting.
Thousands of white-shirted protesters affiliated with the Alliance for the Happiness of Future Generations began demonstrating outside the Legislative Yuan at 7am, occupying an entire block of Jinan Road as they sang hymns and shouted slogans demanding public hearings and a referendum on same-sex marriage legislation.
“We can affirm that the rights of homosexuals should be protected, including some of the legal amendments proposed by the Ministry of Justice and different civic groups, but we feel that any change has to be based on a consensus,” alliance spokesman Tseng Hsien-ying （曾獻瑩） said, adding that his group was opposed to a “rash” passage of the bill. “Passing this out of committee after just nine days [after its first reading] when people are not even aware and have not had an opportunity to make themselves heard is extremely inappropriate.”
While the spokesman would not say how the demonstration had been organized, numerous participants said they learned of the event at Bible study or church group meetings, with some saying they had seen online announcements.
Front-pa學甲中小企業貸款ge adverts were placed in four Chinese-language newspapers on Wednesday and yesterday.
“The main reason we are here today is to support ministers of the Taiwan Presbyterian Church,” alliance spokesman Lin Ya-lun （林亞倫） said.
The ministers presented a petition to lawmakers yesterday morning.
While some in the church’s seminary earlier this week signed a petition in favor of the proposed amendment, the church officially opposes the bill, as have the vast majority of other churches that have taken a public stance.
Dozens of participants refused to be interviewed, citing the instructions of event organizers, who also interfered with interviews.
A woman who was being interviewed by this reporter was told to stay silent by one of the organizers.
Those who were willing to be interviewed cited their fears of a collapse of traditional values and the potential influence on children as their reason for attending the demonstration.
“There’s a ‘devilish hand’ behind these changes — homosexual activists want to push through promiscuous behavior, which will lead to the collapse of the whole institution of marriage,” said a woman surnamed Chang （張）, who said she had left Kaohsiung at 1am to reach Taipei for the rally.
A woman surnamed Yang （楊） said she was concerned about the impression that would be made on children, also citing the potential effects on surrogate mothers from the provisions banning discrimination against homosexual couples in adoption cases.
The announcement that the review would not be conducted yesterday was met with cheers by the demonstrators, with all those within and outside the legislative compound departing by the end of the evening.
Small groups of counterprotesters gathered on the margins throughout the day, while counterprotesters affiliated with the Free Taiwan Party walked through the protest waving large rainbow flags.
Dozens of people affiliated with the Tong-Kwang Light House Presbyterian Church and the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights （TAPCPR） held a marathon speech session on the corner of Zhongshan S and Qingdao E roads, reading statements submitted online by homosexuals.
“We’re here to highlight the plight of homosexual Christians, because they are the ones who are pained the most by all this,” TAPCPR secretary-general Chien Chih-chieh （簡至潔） said.
Chien said she helped organize yesterday’s event as part of an effort to promote dialogue between homosexuals and Christian groups.
A white-shirted elderly man briefly stationed himself in front of the counterprotest site, shouting that the activists were “blaspheming” for “pretending to speak in God’s name.”
The man got into verbal altercations with several people before moving on after several minutes.
Additional reporting by Jason Pan