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Groups call for gay-friendly laws, gender equality education

2011/05/16 20:04:02

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) Several civic groups called Monday forgay-friendly laws and early education on gender equality in Taiwan.

At a press conference on the eve of International Day AgainstHomophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), the groups presented a chart anda list of examples that they said were an indication of homophobia inTaiwan.

Two of the examples cited were the Taipei District Court'sdismissal in 1986 of an application to legalize the marriage of a gaycouple, and the recent opposition to a Ministry of Education (MOE)plan to include gender equality in its curriculum for elementary andjunior high school students.

"Many think that Taiwan is a gay-friendly country, free ofsuppression and sexual bullying, with an increasingly popular annualgay parade, " said Chien Chih-chieh, secretary-general of AwakeningFoundation, one of the groups represented at the press conference.

"But Taiwan is indeed a place where homophobia exists," she said."If the country really wants to create a gender-friendly society, thegovernment should make efforts to legalize gay marriage and/or civilpartnerships, and teach gender equality in schools as early aspossible."

The groups rebutted the argument that early education on genderissues could mislead and confuse young people about sexuality.

"It's like saying that teaching children about nutrition couldcause them to become confused about what to eat, " Chien said, citingthe concept of a cartoon by a local blogger known as "beat."

Lu Hsin-chieh, director of Public Affairs of Taiwan TongZhiHotline Association, said that education is the first step towardunderstanding and respect.

"Sexual orientation cannot be taught, " she said. "Educationsimply helps people learn to respect others. Only through educationcan fear and discrimination be lifted. "

The groups hoped to draw the public's attention to these issueson the eve of IDAHO, which is celebrated on May 17, the date when theWorld Health Organization in 1990 removed homosexuality from theInternational Classification of Diseases.

(By James Lee)