French human rights ambassador praises Taiwan's push for gay marriage

2019/01/31 18:13:49 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) French Human Rights Ambassador François Croquette on Thursday praised Taiwan's government for its push to legalize same-sex marriage but also raised concern about its decision to carry out an execution last year.

Speaking with local reporters, Croquette, who is making his first trip to Taiwan, told reporters that the French government strongly supports Taiwan's decision to move toward legalizing gay marriage.

"We respect Taiwan's decision on this issue, as we know it is a very hotly debated one," he said.

A similar situation happened in Paris when same-sex marriage was legalized in May 2013 despite protests, he pointed out.

Now, more than five years later, the French envoy said he believes the decision has been a success that has improved the lives of gay couples and promotes human rights for all in his country.

Croquette was referring to a decision by the Taiwan Constitutional Court in May 2017 that struck down the definition of marriage in the Civil Code and ordered that the law be amended within two years to redefine marriage as between two people, not just a man and a woman.

If the relevant laws are not amended or enacted within two years, same-sex couples will be allowed to marry under the law, using the same process laid out in the Marriage Chapter of the Civil Code, the court ruled.

Amid Taiwan's ongoing debate on whether the Civil Code should be amended or a special law should be enacted for same-sex marriage, Croquette said the decision should be made by the Taiwanese people.

He stressed that the point is to make sure gay couples can enjoy equal rights in marriage and that such rights are protected in a legally binding way.

The French envoy, however, also expressed concern over Taiwan's execution of a death row inmate in August 2018. Lee Hung-chi (李宏基), 39, who was convicted of murder in 2014, was executed in Kaohsiung on Aug. 31. It was the first execution since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, 2016.

"We were disappointed that the government decided to do so ... we believe it is a setback (in pushing for abolition of the death penalty)," he noted.

He reiterated the French government's stance on opposing capital punishment, saying that the penalty is "inhuman and cruel" and does not serve as a deterrent to criminal activities.

He urged Taiwan to reintroduce a moratorium as soon as possible.

Croquette disclosed that he had personally conveyed the concern to Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) during a Jan. 29 meeting. He said he and Wu had a good discussion over the issue.

"We know there are difficult debates (here) and that society might not be ready," he noted.

However, he stressed that it would be a brave but correct decision to make.

Croquette is visiting Taiwan to attend the 2019 Taipei "Night of Ideas (La Nuit des idées)" to be held in the city Thursday night.

Launched by France's Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in 2016, the Night of Ideas is a global event that features thought-provoking programs of debates, performances and screenings exploring the ideas behind contemporary issues.

Taiwan participated in the Night of Ideas for the first time in 2018.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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