TAIPEI TIMES 2007/10/3
Politicians taken to task for lip service on gay rights
STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA
Wednesday, Oct 03, 2007, Page 4
"Gay, bisexual and transgender communities welcome any support, but they are not fools."
Gofyy, president of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association
Election candidates should do more than speak up for gay rights so that they can secure votes from members of the gay, bisexual and transgender communities, representatives from these communities said yesterday.
"Taiwan's society has become more aware of gay rights, and many election candidates want to woo votes from this group. However, they have to back their words with action rather than just offering lip service," said the president of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, who goes by the alias Gofyy.
The US-based Kinsey Institute estimates that 10 percent of the human population is gay, bisexual or transgender, he said, adding that this made such communities a focus group politicians cannot afford to ignore.
More often than not, however, Gofyy said, politicians and candidates say they support gay rights, but fail to come up with substantial opinions and policies.
"Gay, bisexual and transgender communities welcome any support, but they are not fools. They know very well who are for real and who are not. Candidates cannot expect to win votes by simply participating in gay pride parades and offering vocal support," he said.
Gay, bisexual and transgender communities in Taiwan have been establishing "observation groups" in past elections to examine candidates' opinions and positions on gay rights, Gofyy said.
"Some candidates who have shown support for gay, bisexual and transgender groups during their campaigns never did anything after being elected. Some did push for new legislation or amendments, but in the end they were stuck in the Legislative Yuan because of opposition from conservative legislators," he said.
The legislative elections are scheduled to be held at the end of the year, and the presidential election is set for next March.
An annual gay, bisexual and transgender parade has been scheduled for next Saturday in downtown Taipei to showcase the "rainbow power" of these communities, whose members are often discriminated against, parade organizers said yesterday.
The parade, which is entering its fifth year and is expected to draw over 10,000 participants, will make its way down Zhongxiao E Road and end in the square behind Taipei City Hall, where a stage will be set up for music performances, said Wang Ping (王蘋), chief convener of the parade.
The goal of the parade is to promote equality, diversity, respect and an end to discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender people, and it can also be seen as a platform for discussion with other citizens, Wang said.
From a humble beginning of only 1,000 participants in the inaugural 2003 parade to more than 10,000 participants last year, the parade has established itself as the biggest of its kind in Asia, Gofyy said.
"It's true that the movement in Taiwan still has a long way to go, but at the same time we are very proud to say that it plays a leading example compared to other Asian countries, such as Japan and Thailand," he said.
To boost the visibility of the event, popular local singer A-Mei (阿妹) has been named the rainbow ambassador of the parade, Gofyy said.