Tue, Jul 24, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China meddles as 28 to go to Gay Games as ‘Taiwan’

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei waves a Republic of China flag at a news conference in Taipei yesterday to promote fundraising for a Taiwanese team to compete in the Gay Games in Paris next month.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Twenty-eight Taiwanese plan to compete in the Gay Games in Paris next month under the name of Taiwan for the first time, but they are still NT$2 million (US$65,264) short of their fundraising goal, the Taiwan Gay Sports and Taiwan Gay Development Movement Association said yesterday.

The team was honored to be invited by the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) to take part in this year’s Games, where more than 10,000 athletes from more than 90 nations are to compete in more than 500 events, veteran gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei (祁家威) told a news conference in Taipei.

Chi, who is to lead the team, said that while several Taiwanese had participated in the Games in the past, this was the first time the FGG had formally invited the nation to compete under the name of Taiwan.

“This could be the only chance for us to compete as Taiwan because the next Gay Games will be held in Hong Kong,” he added.

However, association president Yang Chih-chun (楊智鈞) said the FGG appears to be coming under pressure from the French government over displays of Taiwan’s national flag during the Games.

He said the association was notified by the FGG last week that the French government had “expressed concerns” over displaying the flag.

“Our logical conclusion is that China protested to the French government, or otherwise this would not have happened,” Yang told Agence France-Presse.

The association is also negotiating with FGG over its listing as “Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)” on the Paris games Web site rather than just “Taiwan” — the name it used when filling out the registration form.

“We hope the FGG can resist pressure,” Yang said.

“We will fight till the last moment to use our national flag at the Gay Games,” Chi said.

However, funding remains the most pressing concern.

The association was founded in May to prepare for Taiwan’s participation in the Games, and while it aims to raise NT$3 million to send a team to Paris, it has raised less than NT$1 million, Chi said.

The team’s slogan, “Taiwan comes out,” is significant on both a personal and a national level, swimmer Yu Kun-i (游坤義) said.

LGBT people and Taiwan have to fight for acceptance for what they are, Yu said.

“By making that connection, we also hope to make the experience of the LGBT community more relatable to the public,” he said.

However, while the idea of representing “Taiwan” has received widespread support from athletes across the nation, the value of gender diversity that the Games aim to celebrate has not, he said.

“The Games welcome athletes who support the value of diversity and equality to participate regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, but most of the athletes who joined are those who have come out of the closet. This shows that heterosexual athletes who support the cause also face great stress and stigmatization,” he said.

Promoting the name of Taiwan and marriage equality are goals that the New Power Party has been fighting to realize, party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said.

The party would do everything it can to support the team and he hopes the Sports Administration and more businesses would be willing to fund the athletes, he added.

The Gay Games began as the Gay Olympics in San Francisco, California, in 1982. Like the Olympic Games, they are held every four years.

Taiwanese athletes will be competing in swimming, running, table tennis, tennis and inline speedskating in Paris. They are scheduled to leave for France on Thursday next week.

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