Tue, Sep 27, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Legislator says photo ID rules are discriminatory

TOO STRINGENT Ears must be shown clearly in photos taken for the new ID cards, and one legislator said this infringes on the rights of people who have microtia

By Jenny Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Lien-Fu holds a press conference yesterday to suggest the government loosen its new ID photo policy -- which requires the public to clearly show their ears in the photos -- in special cases, to avoid causing embarrassment to suffers of microtia.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The regulations for new photo IDs sparked more controversy yesterday, with a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator saying that the rules, which state that people's ears have to be left unobscured, infringed on the rights of people with microtia, a congenital disease affecting the appearance of the ears.

Sufferers of the disease often have smaller or deformed ears.

Chiang said that making it mandatory for ears to be exposed would be putting salt in the wounds of microtia sufferers and asked that the Ministry of the Interior's Department of Household Registration Affairs review the regulations within a month.

One solution may be to leave off the photos. Under the regulations for the new identity card photos, those who are severely disfigured or are in a vegetative state are required to include a photo on the new identity cards.

However KMT Legislator Chiang Lien-Fu (江連福) said that not including the photos would further stigmatize people with microtia, making a bad situation worse.

Jiang asked why celebrity Fei Chang (張菲) had been allowed to leave his beard unshaven in the new photos, when it would obscure facial features, while people with microtia are not permitted to keep their ears hidden, even though it wouldn't affect facial recognition.

"We want microtia sufferers to be given the freedom to choose whether to leave their ears exposed or unexposed. This makes a world of difference to them," Chiang said, adding that their rights were being affected.

"Let sufferers of microtia be able to get a new ID card happily and without pressure," Chiang said.

In response to Chiang's comments, Su Ching-chao (蘇清朝), deputy director of the interior ministry's Department of Household Affairs said that the regulations didn't prohibit facial hair.

Su said that the regulations for the new ID photos were based on standards provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

"This will hopefully facilitate people's access to countries around the world," Su said.

Su confirmed, however, that allowances could be made for people with microtia as a "special case." Su said that so long as the "natural face" was unobscured, revealing the eyes, the lips, the nose and both sides of the face, the ears need not be revealed.

Su said a doctor's approval or evidence of a handicap did not have to be provided for photos to be omitted on the ID cards, confirming that it would be at the discretion of the household affairs department.

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