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Gay rights activists want 'all-out war' against 'homophobic' groups

2015/09/20 19:58:37

Hsu Hsiu-wen (許秀雯), head of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights. (CNA file photo)

Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) Several pro-gay groups in Taiwan on Sunday "declared war" against what they said were homophobic religious groups that were attempting to gain seats in the Legislature next year to prevent the passage of a same-sex marriage bill.

The newly established Faith and Hope League is one such group, said Hsu Hsiu-wen (許秀雯), head of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, at a press conference that was held under the theme "Declaring All-Out War Against Homophobic Religious Forces."

She said the Faith and Hope League, which was established on Sept. 6 by former Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) and several Christian pastors, is actually a political party with an agenda to block a proposed amendment to the Civil Code that aims to legalize same-sex marriage.

The amendment, more commonly known as the "marriage equality bill," cleared its first reading in the Legislative Yuan in 2013 and was reviewed for the first time in the Legislature's Judiciary Committee last December. Since then, it has been shelved, largely due to opposition from religious groups.

Hsu said several core members of the Faith and Hope League were involved in organizing a 2013 rally in which tens of thousands of people in Taiwan took to the streets to oppose the marriage equality bill.

"In the foreseeable future, they will systematically suppress gay rights in the political realm, with their actions backed by the huge organizational strength and financial funding of the church," said Hsu, a legislator-at-large candidate for the political alliance between Taiwan's Green Party and Social Democratic Party.

In response, Chen Chih-hung (陳志宏), chairman of the Faith and Hope League, told CNA that the group "currently has nothing specific to say about" the marriage equality bill.

"At the moment, we believe that a social consensus on the issue is needed. We hope there will be more dialogue so that we can understand each other's expectations," Chen said.

He said his group is focused mainly on issues related to youth, education, the environment and social values.

Asked about the involvement of the group's core members in the 2013 rally, Chen said the group comprises many people with different views that do not necessarily represent the group's position.

Meanwhile, Hsu said she will begin a 28-day tour around Taiwan on Sept. 27 to raise awareness of same-sex marriage and other gay rights issues.

During the tour, she will give lectures and meet with gay-friendly politicians, legislative candidates, students and social groups and drum up support for the marriage equality bill, she said.

Wang An-i (王安頤), head of The Lobby Alliance for LGBT Human Rights and editor-in-chief of the lesbian magazine LEZS, also spoke at the press conference, calling on the gay community to vote for lawmakers who support gay rights.

"Caring about politics is caring about your lives," Wang said.

(By Christie Chen)