SDP introduces gay rights issues to legislative race

OUT OF LEFT FIELD::The new party’s two candidates for districts in Taipei are set to take on conservative male incumbents, with a platform of social and rights issues

By Lii Wen  /  Staff writer

Wed, Mar 25, 2015 - Page 3

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) — a center-left political party set to be launched on Sunday — yesterday announced its plans to field two prominent social activists for next year’s legislative elections: gay rights advocate Jennifer Lu (呂欣潔) and anti-death-penalty activist Miao Po-ya (苗博雅).

The two candidates — both openly lesbian — are to face off against incumbent male contenders from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), prompting the SDP to brand their campaign as “a showdown between girls and uncles.”

Lu plans to enter the race for Taipei’s Xinyi (信義) and Songshan (松山) districts against the KMT’s Alex Fai (費鴻泰), while Miao is to go up against the KMT’s Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) in Taipei’s Wenshan (文山) and southern Zhongzheng (中正) districts.

The campaign has aroused interest, as both KMT legislators have been accused of courting conservative groups in efforts to block legislation to legalize same-sex marriage — bringing gay rights issues into the national spotlight for next year’s legislative elections.

During a meeting with the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan in September last year, Fai assured the group that he shared their views, saying that legislative motions to legalize same-sex marriage were “premature” and “lacked social consensus.”

Lai came under fire in January last year when he helped another conservative group arrange a meeting with then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).

SDP Secretary-General Urda Yen (嚴婉玲) said that Lu’s and Miao’s campaign activities would be based only partly on issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.

She added that the candidates have a proven track record of advocating for human rights and promoting political activism among young people.

Miao, 28, is a human rights activist with a focus on judicial reform.

An outspoken critic of capital punishment, she formerly headed the legal affairs division at the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty.

Lu, 32, is best known for her work in promoting LGBT rights as a core member of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association.

She said that she intends to spearhead reforms to social welfare institutions, saying that the nation’s current long-term care services for disabled citizens and children require a major overhaul.