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Wed, Nov 28, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Gay group promotes candidates

ELECTIONS Activists recommended 10 Taipei City and County legislative candidates after reviewing the conduct of 35 who signed an agreement to support gay rights

By Chuang Chi-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eleven legislative candidates who have been recommended by an observer group consisting of more than 40 gay and lesbian groups pose at a press conference held by the activists yesterday.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Activists yesterday recommended a list of Taipei City and County legislative candidates sympathetic to homosexuals.

"Legislation ensuring homosexual rights must be passed," said Wang Ping (王蘋), secretary-general of the Gender Sexuality Rights Association (性別人權協會).

"A hypocritical society might ask gays to stand up and fight whenever their rights are violated but won't support them once they do. Most homosexuals are forced to remain invisible, whatever happens to them, out of fear of discrimination after exposing their sexual orientation," she said.

The activists' campaign only involved Taipei City and County legislative candidates, but one candidate from Hsinchu has also been recommended. A shortage of activists prevented a nationwide campaign.

Activists produced the list of 10 lawmaker candidates after reviewing the previous attitudes and conduct of 35 candidates who signed an agreement to support legislation for gay rights.

The agreement, sent to 138 candidates, requested future legislators to request government aid to promote homosexual rights and to work for an "anti-discrimination act" and a "partnership registration act," which would grant homosexual couples the same legal rights enjoyed by couples who are in a heterosexual marriage, including inheritance and adoption rights.

"With the candidates' positive response, we feel optimistic about future progress in the legislature," Wang said.

The recommended candidates represent various parties, but most are independent.

Webster Chen (陳文彥), a gay independent candidate who runs a popular gay bar and whose platform addresses gay issues exclusively, is on the list.

He said he wants to show that gays are just like everyone else and deserve fair treatment."Without respect for gays, people won't really give equal treatment to us even with legislation," he said.

"Society should pursue a reconciliation with homosexuals. They don't hurt anyone," said another recommended candidate, legislator Shih Ming-teh (施明德), who attended the first gay wedding in Taiwan, and Asia, in 1996.

"I hope one day the mothers of homosexuals in Taiwan will be able to proudly admit that their children are gay, just as I saw in the New York gay parade," said independent candidate Sisy Chen (陳文茜), who held a mock lesbian wedding last year with female New Party legislator Chu Hui-liang (朱惠良) to strengthen the gay rights movement. They are both on the recommendation list.

Chu, although she represents Hsinchu, was recommended because of her strong advocacy of gay rights.

However, activists noted that only one of the 10 is a Taipei County candidate.

In fact, only 13 of the 69 seeking a legislative seat representing Taipei County signed the agreement.

"Efforts to introduce the idea of homosexual rights to residents outside the capital of Taipei should be strengthened," said Gofyy (喀飛, a pseudonym), standing committee member of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline (同志諮詢熱線). "Many candidates in Taipei County don't have a clue about homosexuality."

Chu Wei-cheng, an activist and assistant professor at National Taiwan University, said that the poor response from Taipei County candidates possibly reflected the overall attitude of rural residents.

"They may fear that they will lose support by taking a pro-gay stance."

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