Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Voters in Taiwan rejected a referendum on LGBT rights, pushing back efforts for same-sex marriage in the country.
The majority of voters approved a measure Saturday stating "Civil Code regulations should restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman" and two other measures opposing same-sex marriage while rejecting measures to legalize same sex marriage and asking if civil code marriage regulations "should be used to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married."
"This result is a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights in Taiwan. However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail," Amnesty International Taiwan's Acting Director Annie Huang said in a statement. "The result must not be used as an excuse to further undermine the rights of LGBTI people. The Taiwanese government needs to step up and take all necessary measures to deliver equality and dignity for all, regardless of who people love."
Tseng Hsien-yin, leader of the Coalition for the Happiness of our Next Generation, a group that opposes gay marriage, said the decision reflected the will of the voters.
"The public have used their ballots to tell the governing authorities what is the mainstream opinion and the result represents a victory for all people who cherish family values and how such values should be taught in schools to the young generation," he said.
The referendum comes after Taiwan's highest court ruled Article 972 of the country's civil code prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional in May of last year and gave Taiwanese parliament two years to amend it.
Legislators in Taiwan offered differing opinions on whether President Tsai Ing-wen's administration would be required to pass laws reflecting the results of Saturday's referendum or would still be compelled to change the civil code to allow for same-sex marriage.
Alawmaker from the president's Democratic Progressive Party told CNN any positive referendum result "must pass" in the next legislative session, but a legal expert said lawmakers would be left to decide how to respond to the results of the referendum.
Tseng said the Coalition for the Happiness of our Next Generation would "see that the government revise or institute relevant laws and implement the relevant education guidelines for the school curriculums in line with the results."
"We will ... send our drafted bill to the parliament as soon as possible for review and passage because we respect same-sex partnerships and believe there should be a special law for them," he said.
Amnesty International's regional campaign manager for Taiwan, Suki Chung, tweeted that the result "shouldn't be used as an excuse to further undermine the rights of LGBTI people"
"The government must legislate for equality of marriage by 2019 to comply with the Constitutional Court's decision," she wrote.