Wed, Feb 02, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Gay rights group slams legislator over remarks

HUMAN RIGHTS A small contingent gathered outside the Legislative Yuan yesterday to protest Wang Shih-chien's criticism of Taipei City's `Gay Citizens Movement' budget

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Recent controversial statements by newly-elected Legislator Wang Shih-chien (王世堅) drew serious criticism from gay rights advocates yesterday as they protested next to the Legislative Yuan in an attempt to invite Wang to a debate.

Led by the Taiwanese Tongzhi Hotline Association (TTHA), a small contingent of protesters with placards stood next to the Legislative Yuan, chanting slogans such as "Open debate and offer formal apology!" and "Human rights education starts with politicians!"

The TTHA provides homosexuals with peer counseling, support networks, and a community resource center.

Prejudice

"Gays and lesbians have the same human rights as other citizens in Taiwan. However, Wang criticized the Taipei City Government for listing the `Gay Citizens Movement' as a normal item in the annual budget plan. His prejudice against us and ignorance of human rights should be condemned," said TTHA director of public affairs Ashley Wu (巫緒樑).

According to Wu, the recent election of Wang as a legislator sparked concern among gay rights advocates that he may abuse his rights to block laws or budgets that protect gay rights. The TTHA chose the new legislature's first session to express its anger and get the attention of Wang and other new legislators.

The group also urged Wang to debate with gay interest groups on issues including their rights as citizens, and the necessity of allocating part of the annual budget to homosexual movements.

The TTHA staged a short play during the protest, with a female cartoon character fighting against the "Year beast" (年獸), which eats up the gay movement's budget.

Wu said that Wang's discriminatory statements compromised the basic human rights of homosexuals. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all human beings are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Wu said that, in addition to denying homosexuals' basic human rights, Wang's statements also encouraged people to discriminate against these groups.

If Wang failed to offer an apology or to accept the TTHA's invitation to a debate, the association will hold forums to discuss those issues with other legislators, Wu said.

In the meantime, they will continue trying to communicate with Wang on the matter, Wu added.

In a Taipei City budget meeting in December, Wang described a proposed allocation for the "Gay Citizens Movement," proposed by the city's Department of Civil Affairs, as "ridiculous." He then threatened to block the budget, according to media reports.

`Disgusting'

Wang also reportedly described the parade during the Taipei Queer Festival as "disgusting" and "immoral." In addition, he apparently asked the Department of Civil Affairs not to budget for "minorities within minority groups."

TTHA member Lai Yu-lin (賴鈺麟) said yesterday that although some newly elected legislators promise to promote and protect gay rights, many politicians still hold serious prejudices against gays and lesbians.

The TTHA's goal will be to demand that politicians abandon discrimination against homosexuals or any minority groups and educate the public about basic human rights, Lai said.

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