Across the spectrum


TAIPEI TIMES 2010/11/25
Across the spectrum

Thu, Nov 25, 2010
Three gay candidates in the upcoming legislative elections tell the ‘Taipei Times’ why they deserve public support
By Andrew C.C. Huang  /  Contributing Reporter

Wang Ping, left, is standing as an independent candidate in upcoming special municipality elections.
Photo: Andrew C.C. Huang

Song Jia-lun, left, and Wang Chung-ming are standing for the Green Party in upcoming special municipality elections.
Photo: Andrew C.C. Huang

The US had Harvey Milk and France has Bertrand Delanoe. And Taiwan? It has three openly gay candidates running in the upcoming special municipality elections.

These would-be legislators — a scruffy gay man who campa tinglouise55@yahoo.com.tw igns for eco-friendly agriculture, a slender dominatrix and a veteran feminist activist — demonstrate just how diverse the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community is.

Wang Chung-ming

Wang Chung-ming (王鐘銘), a green activist who also campaigns for the rights of deaf homosexuals, is a candidate for the Green Party (綠黨) in the Shihmen (石門), Sanjhih (三芝), Bali (八里) and Tamsui (淡水) districts.

Wang, 32, has worked as a volunteer for the Persons With HIV/AIDS Rights Advocacy Association (愛滋感染者權益促進會) and as a publishing house editor in the past.

He joined the Green Party in 2006, became a member of its Central Executive Committee and helped orchestrate the party’s election campaign.

I felt this would be a good year for environmental issues and for minorities,” Wang told the Taipei Times. “Earlier this year, I tried to help the party find a gay candidate, but failed. So I decided to take the plunge.”

A native of Tamsui, Wang has chosen to eschew gay-friendly policies and concentrate on green agriculture and revitalizing his hometown.

Gay-friendly policies have been covered by the Green Party already,” Wang said.

Wang’s platform includes development policies that, he says, would foster a “green” economy and create employment opportunities for Tamsui residents.

This town has been the ‘bedroom’ from which we commute to Taipei everyday for employment,” he said. “This is not a fully functioning city.”

He also aims to turn Tamsui into a center of culture.

Tamsui has been a very touristy town in terms of its cultural development,” he said. “I want to build a cultural zone in which long-term cultural development will be emphasized instead of just turning a quick buck.”

Song Jia-lUn

Self-professed dominatrix Song Jia-lun (宋佳倫) is a Green Party candidate for the Zhongzheng (中正) and Wanhua (萬華) districts. At 27, she is the youngest of the three candidates. Originally a summer campaign assistant for Wang, the charismatic Song decided to run in the election herself.

There are ways to participate in politics if you think it’s filthy,” she said. “For me, the only way is to dive in and dilute it.”

Song grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in a small town in Miaoli County.

I’ve tasted poverty,” she said. “The only way to participate in the redistribution of resources in society is to participate in politics.”

In 2004, Song cofounded the BDSM Company (皮繩愉虐邦), which holds lectures and meetings to raise awareness of and destigmatize sadomasochism.

I read Japanese BL [boy love] manga when I was young and thought I was a gay man,” said Song, who is currently studying at graduate school. “Later on, I became bisexual before settling on being lesbian.”

Song’s political platform grew out of her personal experience rather than academic learning. She campaigns against contingent employment and exploitation, and supports the rights of the homeless. “When you are broke, you are not that far away from being homeless,” Song said.

Song advocates the legalization of the sex industry because, she says, it’s fair for people to utilize their “natural talents” to get by.

If I could take on a job as a dominatrix legally, that would be a highly specialized job with a hefty salary,” she said. “Instead, I am forced to toil away in low-pay, contract jobs.”

I want to fight for the rights of the people at the bottom of the capitalist structure and speak for the young people of my generation,” Song said.

Wang Ping

Wang Ping (王蘋), secretary-general of the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association in Taiwan (台灣性別人權協會), is an independent candidate in the Da-an (大安) and Wenshan (文山) districts. She is a member of the political discussion group Citizen As Priority Open Club (人民老大開開團).

A native of Taichung, Wang is a well-known LGBT activist who served as the convener-in-chief for the Taiwan LGBT Pride (台灣同志遊行) in 2007.

Wang, now 50, experienced a political awakening while pursuing a master’s degree in architecture at the University of California at Berkeley.

I was a proper and obedient girl growing up in Taiwan,” Wang told the Taipei Times.

While in California, Wang would go to People’s Park in Berkeley to listen to lectures, or watch films about the civil rights movement in class. “That made me realize I could do something to change the society,” she said.

After returning to Taiwan, Wang joined the feminist Awakening Foundation (婦女新知), but later felt ostracized because of her status as a lesbian. She and several of her friends went on to found the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association.

I felt it was wrong that a feminism group should look down on me because I am a lesbian,” Wang said. “I think all the underprivileged groups should coalesce to change the system — Aborigine, gay, lesbian, transgender, sex workers and people living with HIV.”

Wang advocates a comprehensive citizens’ forum that allows people to voice their opinions, which can later be drafted into policies.

It’s wrong to project your ideals onto a politician and expect him or her to change things for you,” Wang said. “People should get involved and let their voices be heard.”

Wang takes issue with the Ministry of Education’s ban on LGBT clubs in high schools, implemented in March.

Teenagers are at the stage of experiencing sexual awakening and they need support from their peers,” Wang said. “They should be able to form LGBT clubs.”

小黨候選人打理念牌 爭選民認同





記者 張志雄 陳昌維 莊志成 台北報導

TAIPEI TIMES2010/10/30
Party politics
This year’s Taiwan LGBT Pride parade takes issue with government policies that exclude same-sex couples, and politicians who fail to make good on election promises to engender equality

By Andrew C.C. Huang  /  Contributing Reporter
Sat, Oct 30, 2010 - Page 16
With its throngs of muscled men in swim trunks and drag queens wearing flamboyant costumes, today’s Taiwan LGBT Pride parade, the largest of its kind in the Chinese-speaking world, may look like one big, boisterous party, but the message is serious.

The event is part of efforts by the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities — and their supporters — to raise awareness and demand basic human rights.

With this years theme of Out & Vote (投同志政策一票), the organizers of the events eighth edition are calling on supporters to come out, speak up, and demand the implementation of policies giving the countrys LGBT citizens the same rights that their heterosexual compatriots enjoy.

The gay rights movement has marched into its third decade in Taiwan. The notion that love is genderless is too superficial by now, said Lu Hsin-chieh (呂欣潔), convener-in-chief of the march and director of policy advocacy at Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association (同志諮詢熱線協會). Homosexual rights are not just about two homosexual persons being allowed to love each other, theyre also about a couples relation to society and where they stand in this system.

We want to see real policies that will benefit us,” she said.

According to Lu, policies such as the young family establishment initiative (青年成家方案) and the second-generation health insurance reform (二次健改) proposed earlier this year exclude same-sex couples, which are not included in the traditional definition of what constitutes a family.

The concept of partner (伴侶) does not exist in Taiwan, Lu said. Taiwans Civil Code (民法) defines a couple as a husband and a wife.’”

Taiwan’s politicians are quick to issue promises to woo voters during election time, said Lu, but have failed to pass any major law that introduces equality.

The Basic Human Rights Law (人權基本法), a bill approving same-sex marriage, was drafted during former president Chen Shui-bians (陳水扁) term, but never saw the light of day in the legislature.

The Tong-Kwang Light House Presbyterian Church (同光同志長老教會), a co-organizer of the annual parade, supports gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

One of the LGBT movements main goals is to pressure politicians into amending or repealing antiquated laws that infringe on human rights, such as Article 235 of the Criminal Code (刑法), which criminalizes the distribution, sale and public display of indecent writing, images, or other media, and Article 80 of the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which condones the sex trade but forbids advertisement for such transactions.

Sex rights are the most basic form of human rights, said J.J. Lai (賴正哲), the owner of Gin Gins Bookstore, the countrys first bookshop specializing in books, music and DVDs related to homosexual topics. People have very diversified sexual needs. The government shouldn’t attempt to regulate our sex acts.”

This years theme coincides with three openly gay candidates running in Taipei City Governments legislative elections: Wang Ping (王蘋), secretary-general of the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association in Taiwan (台灣性別人權協會); Sung Chia-lun (宋佳倫), a member of BDSM Company (皮繩愉虐邦); and Wang Chung-ming (王鐘銘), who campaigns for the rights of homosexual deaf people. All three candidates will appear on-stage at the parade to discuss their political platforms.

The parade will pass through Ximending, home of the Red House district, which after years as a dilapidated group of buildings was rejuvenated in 2004, largely because a cluster of gay bars opened there. The area, also known as Red House Rainbow Plaza (紅樓彩虹廣場), became Taiwans first openly gay neighborhood. However, until recently the city governments informational materials placed in the Red House main building ignored the gay communitys presence.

In August, a petition demanding credit for the gay community’s contribution to the area’s redevelopment was launched on Facebook.

A few weeks after the Red House Comes Alive Because of Homosexuals (紅樓因同志而美麗) campaign began, more than 3,000 Facebook users had signed the petition, which was sent to the city government.

After reviewing the petition, the city government made changes in its policy to include information about the plaza in guided tours of the area.

I’m glad about Internet users’ support of this campaign and am positive about how the city government responded to this issue,” an organizer of the online campaign told the Taipei Times, who requested anonymity because his family and employer do not know he is gay. “Taipei ranks right next to Bangkok as one of the most gay-friendly cities in Asia. We should use this rainbow resource well and try to attract more international tourists to Taipei.”

From a modest beginning of 500 participants in 2003, Taiwan LGBT Pride attracted 25,000 attendees last year. Organizers estimate 30,000 will attend this year. Previous editions of the parade have included groups from the UK, US, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and China.

This years parade features Mando-pop superstar Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹), better known as A-mei (阿妹), as the Rainbow Ambassador for the second year in a row. Chang will perform in the end-of-parade concert at the intersection of Gongyuan Road (公園路) and Ketagalan Boulevard (凱達格蘭大道).

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