Comments Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) made in a speech in Boston yesterday have fanned speculation that he opposes same-sex marriage, prompting a clarification from Ko.
Ko arrived in the Massachusetts capital on Thursday evening on the final stop of his four-city visit to the US and spoke at events with young Taiwanese entrepreneurs and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday. He spoke about how he went from being a doctor to a mayor, his experience in municipal administration, and the importance of being brave and innovative.
He also said that Taipei was the most democratic, open and diversified city in East Asia, joking that Chinese visitors to Taiwan were fascinated with political talk shows that allowed people to criticize the president, drawing laughter from those in attendance.
Photo courtesy of the Taipei City Government
“Don’t laugh, just see what happens if you openly criticize [Chinese President] Xi Jinping (習近平) on the streets of Shanghai,” Ko said.
He also cited Eid al-Fitr celebrations, which mark the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan and draw more than 50,000 people, as evidence of Taipei’s diversity.
However, when citing participation rates at the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade each year, he said: “Although I voted against you at the referendums, I allow 125,000 people to parade on the streets.”
“The referendum on the issue of same-sex marriage was rejected,” Ko said, adding that despite this, the parade shows that Taipei is a city of tolerance.
Ko had previously refused to discuss his stance on the referendums held in November last year.
However, on Facebook yesterday, the mayor said he had made an inaccurate remark in the speech.
“My intention was not to say that I voted against it in the referendum, nor did I mean I ‘permit’ the parade,” he wrote. “I meant that although the referendum showed the majority are against it, even so they do not interfere with the parade or other events.”
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