Voters in Taiwan on Saturday voted against amending Taiwan's marriage laws to include gay and lesbian couples.

Last year, Taiwan's Constitutional Court gave the government two years to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The ruling led to referendum questions on Saturday's ballot.

Opponents of marriage equality proposed creating a separate marriage law for gay couples. In response, LGBT activists put forward a referendum proposing that Taiwan's marriage laws be amended to include same-sex couples.

Voters decided that such unions should be legalized through new legislation.

In a statement, Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan called the referendum “illegal” and “harmful” to society.

“The result showed that most people were misled by false information from anti-gay groups,” the group said.

Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, claimed in a press release that U.S.-based groups opposed to marriage equality had funded the campaign that led to Saturday's defeat.

“Over the last year, anti-LGBT organizations – bankrolled and instigated by US-based groups like the National Organization for Marriage – spent millions on scare tactics and deceit, in an effort to spread lies about gay and lesbian people and harm families,” Wolfson said.

“Nothing about tonight's votes undermines the landmark court ruling affirming that the freedom to marry is a right guaranteed by Taiwan's Constitution. And nothing changes the clear mandate from the Court: That by May 2019, lawmakers must update the civil code to allow same-sex couples to marry.”

“In the 25 countries around the world where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, people have seen that families are helped and no one is hurt – and the divisiveness and fear generated by opponents in Taiwan, leading to the disappointing votes today, will quickly fade. People will embrace respect for same-sex couples, affirm their love and commitment, and move again to support the freedom to marry. 1.1 billion people around the world now live in a freedom to marry country; the people of Taiwan deserve no less,” he added.

Taiwan hosts the region's largest annual LGBT Pride parade.