Wed, May 18, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Day against homophobia celebrated at Taipei park

LANDMARK DATE The nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community gathered to speak out against discrimination and press for better rights

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Joining the worldwide celebration of the first annual International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community yesterday gathered in front of 228 Memorial Park, seeking to raise awareness of LGBT issues.

"Although much progress has been achieved in the recognition of LGBT individuals, homophobia still exists in our society and around the world," said Wang Ping (王蘋), secretary general of the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan. "IDAHO is the day for us to reach out to other groups and invite them to join our fights long-term discrimination against the LGBT community."

Led by the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association Taiwan and the Taiwanese Tongzhi Hotline Association, a small contingent of LGBT individuals, as well as their friends and families, lit white candles and gave first-hand accounts of discrimination they had experienced.

Ethan Huang (黃楷翔) shared his experience of being gay and called on the public to embrace those who have different sexual identities.

"I feel very lucky to have received support from my family and friends when I revealed my sexual identity," the 22-year-old college student said. "I hope society can accept us for who we are, because it feels awful to hide one's true identity."

Ethan's mother, Chen Chin-ying (陳金櫻), accompanied her son to the event to express her full support for him and all LGBT individuals.

"When my son told me that he was gay, I said to him: `You will live a harder life.' But I'll always be proud of him, and even feel lucky to have a gay son, because he is so sensitive and thoughtful," Chen said, as she stood next to her son.

Initiated by French gay activist Louis-Georges Tin, IDAHO has received enthusiastic support from international gay-rights groups around the globe, including the International Lesbian and Gay Association, the Coalition of African Lesbians, and the European Association of Human Rights.

According to Ashley Wu (巫緒樑), director of public affairs for the Hotline Association, the decision of the World Health Organization to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders on May 17, 1990 made that date historic, and it has become a powerful symbol for members of the LGBT community.

"Today, we gather here to join the international LGBT community from over 35 countries to call on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to make May 17 the official day for fighting against homophobia," Wu said.

In addition to eliminating public misunderstanding and fear of the LGBT community, gay-rights advocates pledged to advance the community's rights through legislation, by pushing the government to pass an anti-discrimination act, implement the Gender Equality Education Law (性別平等教育法) and amend the Gender Equality in Employment Law (兩性工作平等法).

"One practical measure to defend the rights of the LGBT community is through legal protection," Wang told the Taipei Times. "By carrying out the existing regulations and establishing an anti-discrimination act, we hope to eradicate all kinds of discrimination against not only LGBT people, but all minority groups."

More than 35 countries around the world joined this year's IDAHO celebration through various events such as parades, forums or exhibitions.

For more information on the history and celebration of the event, visit IDAHO's official Web site at http://www.idahomophobia.org.

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