Fri, Oct 30, 2015 - Page 8 News List

EU stands with LGBTI community in Taiwan

Tomorrow, about 70,000 people from all over Taiwan and around the Asia-Pacific region are set to attend the 13th Taiwan LGBTI Pride march. It is the largest Pride march in the region, and it is a march to be proud of as we celebrate inclusiveness, diversity and human rights.

The EU stands together with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in the struggle to end discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. We believe that all human beings are equal in dignity and all are entitled to enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Over recent years and in some parts of the world, LGBTI people have made substantial progress toward obtaining equal rights. Yet in many places, including in the Asia-Pacific region, they continue to suffer discrimination and violence. It is especially alarming that in some nations same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults are criminalized and carry sentences of imprisonment, corporal punishment — or even the death penalty.

Taiwan, on the other hand, has one of the friendliest environments toward LGBTI people and has a lot to offer in terms of experience and best practices to others in the region. So the EU is proud to support Taiwan’s Tongzhi Hotline Association as they host this year’s annual conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Asia Network.

We hope that through this conference, Taiwan’s civil society can be seen as one of the leading actors in promoting LGBTI rights and that valuable knowledge can be shared with all the key activists and non-governmental organizations from around the region. By doing this, we hope that the fight for equal rights for the LGBTI people can be strengthened throughout the region.

We are also pleased to see that the 2nd Taiwan International Queer Film Festival is currently under way, with screenings in Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung; and that “Hand-in-Hand — Proud Voices,” the first LGBTI Choir Festival to be held in Taiwan, is also taking place this weekend in Taipei. These events demonstrate the vibrancy of the LGBTI community in Taiwan.

Of course, both the EU and Taiwan are still not ideal in terms of complete equal rights for the LGBTI people. We must continue to push and further the effort for complete LGBTI equal rights in both the EU and Taiwan by encouraging and working together in a spirit of mutual cooperation. This can be done and would be done as people’s attitudes can change and societies can progress if we work together.

Members of the EU and some EU member states’ offices are to participate in this year’s Taipei Pride March.

Let us march together for a better environment where all people can enjoy their human rights regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, skin color, etc. Let us be proud of who we are as individuals, proud of our diversity, proud of our inclusiveness, proud of Taiwan and most of all, let us be proud of love.

Albin Mauritz, director of the Austrian Office Taipei; Rik Van Droogenbroeck, director of the Belgian Office Taipei; Chris Wood, representative, British Office Taipei; Nicholas Enersen, director of the Trade Council of Denmark Taipei; Teppo Turkki, representative, Finland Trade and Innovation Office; Benoit Guidee, director of the French Office in Taipei; Hugues Mignot, director of the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office; Guy Wittich, representative, Netherlands Trade and Investment Office; Henrik Persson, representative, Swedish Trade and Investment Council; Madeleine Majorenko, head of the European Economic and Trade Office

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