Poland's only openly gay politician, 28-year-old Robert Biedron, should be in a celebratory mood as senators discuss a bill to legalize same-sex partnerships in this devoutly Roman Catholic country. \nBut despite a Europe-wide trend towards giving equal rights to homosexuals, with Spain the latest country to have liberalized its laws, Biedron says that zero-tolerance prevails in Poland despite joining the European Union this year. \n"The Catholic Church is very powerful in Poland and it views homosexuality as a perversion, an attack on the family," he said, predicting that conservatives in the lower chamber of parliament would block the legislation. \nAn estimated two million gays and lesbians live in Poland, making up 5 percent of the population. But they complain of discrimination at work and open hostility in a society which is more than 90 percent Catholic. \nMaciej Giertych, a leader of the ultra-Catholic opposition party, the League of Polish Families, makes no apologies for his view of homosexuality. \n"We cannot accept this behavior. These are people with a problem which can be compared to a dependency, like nicotine, alcohol or pornography," he said. \nBiedron, who heads a gay rights group, Campaign Against Homophobia, is a member of the ruling Democratic Left Alliance although he has never been elected to public office. \nA member of the upper house from his party, Maria Szyskowska, proposed the law after similar reforms failed last year but also doubts its chances of success faced with widespread anti-homosexual views in Poland. \n"There is a stereotype that equates a good Pole with a Catholic. We went from one extreme to another, from Marxism to catholicism," she says of the former Communist country. \nUnder pressure from its opponents, the bill was significantly watered down and no longer envisages the right for homosexuals to file joint tax returns, adopt children or have access to a partner's medical information. \nIt merely allows gay couples to register a permanent relationship at the registar's office on the basis of which they can conclude an agreement on property ownership and acquire the rights to inheritance. \nBut even this was a step too far for 300 local officials from across Poland who fired off an angry letter of protest to the interior minister, threatening to flout the law and refuse to register gay partnerships. \nAttitudes are no different even in the capital. Jacek, a dark-haired 33-year-old from Warsaw, who has been in a relationship with Marcin, 24, for four years, says they have suffered from persistent prejudice. \nThe two men were forced to move out of the apartment that they shared in a working-class suburb of the capital city because of both verbal and physical aggression from large groups of unemployed young men. \nMarcin lost his job at a branch of US fast-food chain McDonald's, after customers complained to his boss about him employing a gay man. \nNow they both live with their parents but, even at home, they cannot live normal lives. \n"My parents know about us, they think we are ill and have to see a doctor, go to a priest. If we walk on the street together, people will often shout at us `You homosexuals, get away from here,'" said Jacek. \nA British gay couple James, 23 and Steven, 32, got the cold shoulder last month in the southern city of Bielsku when shocked officials discovered that they had been selected for an exchange from a twin town in England. \nThis followed a decision in May by Warsaw's right-wing mayor, Lech Kaczynski, to ban an annual gay parade in the Polish capital, citing security reasons after plans for a rival anti-homosexual protest. \nThere have been some steps forward -- in line with EU legislation, Poland has amended its laws to forbid discrimination at work on grounds of sexual orientation. \nBut public attitudes have not evolved, with the head of the Catholic Church Cardinal Jozef Glemp telling public radio a year ago that he "hated" seeing men kiss each other. \n"It depresses me a lot because it is against human nature," he said.
When Auntie Su (蘇) was evicted from her apartment last Monday, locals were so overjoyed that they sent thank you wreaths to the Tainan Police Department. “Justice has been served.” “Punish villains and eradicate evil,” read some of the notes. “Thank you, hardworking police for bringing peace and quiet back to Tainan!” a neighbor posted on Facebook. Auntie Su is a notorious “informer demon” (檢舉魔人), someone who is known to excessively report violations either for reward money or — depending which side you’re on — to serve as a justice warrior or a nosy annoyance. Usually they are called “professional”
In Taiwan’s foothills, suspension bridges — or the remnants of them — are almost as commonplace as temples. “Suspension bridge” is a direct translation of the Chinese-language term (吊橋, diaoqiao), but it’s a little misleading. These spans aren’t huge pieces of infrastructure. The larger ones are just wide enough for the little trucks used by farmers. Others are suitable for two-wheelers and wheelbarrows. If one end is higher than the other, they may incorporate steps, like the recently-inaugurated, pedestrians-only Shuanglong Rainbow Suspension Bridge (雙龍七彩吊橋) in Nantou County. Because torrential rains hammer Taiwan during the hot season, the landscape is scarred by
With his sugarcane juice stall at Monga Nightmarket (艋舺夜市) floundering due to COVID-19, things took a turn for the worse for Lin Chih-hang (林志航) when he was furloughed from a part-time job. The crowds are trickling back to this nightmarket in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), but Lin is now so busy that he has hired a friend to run his stall. As the sole driver of the night market’s delivery service, established on April 12, Lin takes on an average of 20 orders on weeknights and over 60 on weekends, with his father helping out when he is too busy.
May 25 to May 31 Three months before his 90th birthday in 2015, Chung Chao-cheng (鍾肇政) woke up shortly after midnight and experienced a inexplicable sense of clarity. “Suddenly, my mind started going all over the place. There were some recent memories, but also many that I thought I had long forgotten. They would appear and disappear from my brain one after another, and they were so clear, so lucid. Even the memories from 70, 80 years ago felt like they happened yesterday. I suddenly thought, if I still remember so much, why don’t I write everything down?” Despite his solid