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Rainbow Flag To Rise For First Time Over Taiwan
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
September 2, 2006 - 12:01 am ET
(Taipei) For the very first time the Rainbow Flag will be raised in an official ceremony in Taiwan an indication that the island off mainland China is growing more tolerant of gays.
The flag will go up in front of Taipei City Hall on September 17, marking the start of "Queer Friendly Taipei" and in another first the city's Department of Civil Affairs is a major sponsor of the event.
LGBT groups have been holding the celebration for the past seven years, and each year until now the city has rebuffed efforts to hoist the flag at city hall.
This year LGBT leaders were expecting another letdown, but the city surprised them by agreeing to the flag raising and funding. When the festival turned up in the civil affairs budget some city councilors and conservative groups were outraged.
Yeh Jie-sheng, the department's Deputy Chief said the city was sponsoring the event to stress its respect for minority groups and cultural diversity.
"Conservative and religious groups have been criticizing the event, and we welcome different opinions. We will invite these groups this year to discuss issues of gay rights together," he said during a press conference this week at Taipei City Hall.
The festival will include human rights forums and cultural events.
"The recognition of the rights of gays and lesbians by all people requires making a long-term effort step by step ... This festival will establish a bridge and allow the public to better understand the gay community," said Wang Ping of the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association, one of the organizers of the festival.
Wang said there is still much to be done in attaining full rights for gays pointing to the issue of recognizing same-sex relationships.
To bring that point home to the government, the gay pride parade that will wrap up the festival will feature a collective mock gay wedding ceremony.
Gay leaders say that if the government won't permit same-sex marriage it could at least create a civil registry such as those in a number of American states and in most European countries.
In 2004, a study commissioned by the Taiwan Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Association found that 36 percent of Taiwan's gays have been harassed or discriminated against because of their sexuality.
The survey showed that the majority of harassment cases occurred on university campuses, but almost as many cases were perpetrated by family members. A quarter of the cases occurred in the workplace.
In July, a 22 year old Taiwanese university student announced he had disowned his parents and is suing a psychiatric hospital after being put through what he calls a forced bid to turn him heterosexual. (story)
Rainbow flag to grace Taipei City Hall
Wednesday, September 6, 2006 / 10:44 AM
SUMMARY: Officials sponsoring a gay festival in Taipei, Taiwan, will hoist the rainbow flag Sept. 17 above City Hall in what's termed a first for an Asian city.
Civic officials sponsoring a gay festival in Taipei, Taiwan, will hoist the rainbow flag Sept. 17 above City Hall in what they term a first for an Asian city, the Taipei Times reporteds.
The annual "LGBT Civil Rights Movement -- Queer-friendly Taipei" has been hosted since 2000 by the city's Department of Civil Affairs, with an annual budget of about $30,000.
Yeh Jie-sheng, deputy chief of the department, said the city sponsors the event to stress its respect for minority groups and cultural diversity.
"Conservative and religious groups have been criticizing the event, and we welcome different opinions. We will invite these groups this year to discuss issues of gay rights together," he told reporters last week at Taipei City Hall.
Wang Ping, secretary-general of the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association in Taiwan, which is helping organize the festival, told the Times that events will include the flag-raising ceremony -- billed as the first of its kind in Asia -- on the morning of Sept. 17, followed by gay rights forums that afternoon in the City Council chamber and an art exhibition later in the month.
A Pride parade is planned for Sept. 30, with a collective same-sex wedding ceremony immediately following. Local Christian groups have spread rumors that the city is sponsoring the nuptials. Officials deny this, saying the department will not promote same-sex marriage before it becomes legal.
Nelson Chen, chairman of Taiwan's Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, who received Yeh's blessing when he wed his partner last year in a public ceremony, praised the city's gestures to the gay community but resented attitudes he termed "hypocritical."
"Last year the department sent a flower basket to my wedding as a blessing. Now it says that it doesn't support gay marriage when confronted by conservative groups," he told the Times. (The Advocate)
Activists urge shift in views on sexual identity
With Teachers' Day approaching, gay rights activists launched a campaign on Tuesday to urge members of the public to each write a letter to their current or former teachers asking that they alter their attitudes on sexual identity, which remains a taboo subject on school campuses.
The Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association mounted the letter campaign, saying that most teachers in Taiwan tend to use negative expressions when referring to gays and lesbians.
Ashley Wu, spokesperson for the association, told a news conference in Taipei that the campaign seeks both to elicit respect from teachers for homosexuals and to encourage gays and lesbians to come out of the closet.
Wu said he hoped the letter campaign would help teachers recognize the existence of homosexuals in schools and would also prompt teachers to show more concern for them.
The association has collected more than 20 letters, which it has faxed to more than 19 schools nationwide, including leading high schools such as Taipei Municipal Chien Kuo High School and Taipei First Girls High Schools.
Most schools on all levels deny the existence of homosexuality, and many teachers have negative opinions of homosexuals, a phenomenon which often leads to discrimination against gays and lesbians in schools, Wu noted.
According to Wu, teachers often make remarks such as, "Act like a man if you are a man, act like a woman if you are a woman," which results in stereotyping of homosexuality as "abnormal" and "not healthy." "Homosexuals want to be visible and to be cared for," Wu said.
According to TTHA Chairman David Lee, surveys show that homosexuals account for 5 to 10 percent of the population, which indicates there are around two to three million homosexuals in Taiwan.
Source:Taiwan News(2006/09/06 10:05:05)