Sun, May 18, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Groups for LGBT rights protest bias and bullying

UNDERSTANDING:The alliance is to organize lectures on human rights to teach students about respect and prevent discrimination against LGBT people, a spokesperson said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Paper gravestones, each with the name of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person on it, stand in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei yesterday during a rally calling for respect of LGBT and human rights.

Photo: Hsieh Wen-hua, Taipei Times

One hundred paper tombstones with the names of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) people who committed suicide — most at a young age — after experiencing discrimination, bullying or violent attacks were erected in front of the Presidential Office Building yesterday, in a rally to advocate respect for LGBT human rights.

Holding white signs reading: “How many more have to die?” dozens of supporters attended a demonstration rally held by the Lobby Alliance for LGBT Human Rights on International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, on Ketagalan Boulevard yesterday.

“I only stand here representing the living LGBT people. We are not mourning, but paying a tribute to you [the names on the graves]. Your death reflects the injustice of this world, and your death is a stern protest to the world,” alliance convener Wang An-i (王安頤) said.

They spoke as a cellist and a violinist performed the theme song from the film Schindler’s List that portrayed the life of German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.

“How many more have to die to shake this cold and indifferent world, how many have to die before another ‘Schindler’ is found in Taiwan, who hears their cries in the corner and give them warmth?” alliance spokesperson Chen Chia-chun (陳嘉君) said.

“The alliance chose to use the graves to help the public understand the reality of how people’s ignorance, bias or misunderstanding [against LGBT people] can deprive people of their lives,” Chen said, adding that there is a QR code on each grave that has a link to the life story of each victim.

Lawyer Wellington Koo (顧立雄) said self-affirmation often comes from recognition from others, but although heterosexuals may not feel doubted by the society, LGBT people often feel insecure as a result of other people’s ridicule or denial.

Alliance secretary-general Zoe Shen (沈盈君) said: “Mom and dad, how much I long for you to look at me again, to hug me, to love me more. I felt love in your arms when you put me to sleep, when you fed me and played with me … but these gradually disappeared. I feel pain and helplessness, I cannot climb out of the abyss or bare all this because we are not suited to live in this world.”

Wu Hsin-en (吳馨恩), a 17-year-old transgender woman holding a sign that read: “We are only different from you,” cried as she listened to Shen read aloud the imaginary confession of the victims.

Wu said that the words invoked her painful memories of being called “perverted,” “disobedient” and being scolded by her grandfather, which caused her to run away from home, after which she became a victim of sexual assault and was not allowed to return home.

“Actually, it’s not that we [transgender people] identify with ‘a different type of gender,’ because the gender we identify with is the same as half the world’s population,” she said, “It’s just that we aren’t accepted for identifying with the gender of people born with the other physical attributes.”

“We will always meet people that we don’t understand, but at least ‘respect’ them before we try to understand them,” she said.

Chen said the alliance has approached the Ministry of Education, hoping to give lectures on human rights to elementary to high school students, because they believe when young people learn to respect other people and basic human rights, they will know not to harm other people, even if they are different.

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