Real ‘poison’ is anti-gay thinking

By Chu Yu-hsun 朱宥勳  / 

Thu, Oct 11, 2018 - Page 8

In a Sept. 24 interview with the Chinese-language Apple Daily, Mark Lee (李天柱), who won Best Actor at the 2006 and 2016 Golden Bell Awards, repeated anti-LGBT comments that he made after the 2016 awards ceremony.

He also had a comment about gender-equality education, saying: “If it means legislating to put that element into children’s heads, then sorry, I have to say that it would be poison. It would be a Trojan horse.”

This is a rather awkward time for Lee to start singing his old tune again, since it is during the publicity period for the play The Long Goodbye (小兒子), in which Lee plays a leading role.

Besides, the playwright is Luo Yi-jun (駱以軍), who at the end of August wrote an article in support of proposed referendums for equal rights. It is as if Luo wrote the article as a preemptive response to Lee’s absurd statements.

“I find it very puzzling. It is like a basic adjustment to a clock mechanism,” Luo wrote. “There is a lack of concern for equality and non-discrimination. It is you who have deprived other people of their freedoms and rights for hundreds and thousands of years. The purpose is clear and straightforward — to give those rights back to them — so why do we now have two armies facing one another over the issue?”

This is precisely why there have been calls to boycott any performances of The Long Goodbye with Lee.

Lee used the pan-moralist term “poison” to describe gender-equality education, which includes a topic on homosexuality.

His choice of words pinpoints the basic reason why a generational divide has appeared over this issue.

People who are against homosexuality do not believe they are prejudiced. Rather, they think they are correcting a moral error.

They think that homosexual behavior is intrinsically bad, so to include gay and lesbian couples in the institution of marriage would be legalizing a bad thing.

Seen in this context, it is understandable why people who oppose gender-equality education also call for reinforcing character education. They are two sides of the same coin.

While some people are promoting same-sex marriage and gender-equality education, their opponents feel compelled to correct this “moral degeneracy.”

However, they have precisely the wrong idea. The point of including homosexuality in gender-equality education is not to eliminate morality.

On the contrary, it is to establish an ethical system that fits the real world.

Older people in Taiwan lived under martial law, which lasted for decades. The morality to which they are accustomed is dogmatic and prohibitive.

This morality says: “You should not do anything that is not allowed,” but this point of view is too rigid to cope with real-life situations. It leads people to reject outright anything to which they are not accustomed, which results in immorality.

In contrast, the post-martial law generation has received a formative education that is closer to liberalism. Under this value system, ethics depends above all on whether it harms others. If it does not, there is no reason to restrict it.

This kind of morality says: “You can do anything that does not need to be restricted.”

Under such a framework, gender-equality education — like other issues dealing with communities and class that have long since been written into school curricula — are not radical at all. On the contrary, they are quite conservative. They are meant to establish a new set of moral values.

If people who oppose homosexuality did some field research on the teaching materials on the students themselves, they would discover that the students reflexively associate the ideas of respect and equality with gender-equality education.

The curriculum has to do with morality; there is no emphasis on factual or technical content like sex positions, as LGBT-unfriendly people might imagine.

Lee and others like him might not be aware why the problem is so serious.

Lee calls LGBT people “poison,” but educational reforms aim to establish a system of morality that can eradicate a kind of “poison.”

This “poison” is precisely the kind of discriminatory thinking to which people like Lee cling.

To discriminate against LGBT people is not just an outdated way of thinking, it is more than that: It is a sinister ideology.

Chu Yu-hsun is an author.

Translated by Julian Clegg