Highway authority slammed for license plate blacklist

08/23/2020 12:31 PM
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Four of the 20 plates starting with VVV, which fetch over NT$550,000 in an auction last year. File photo courtesy of the Directorate General of Highways
Four of the 20 plates starting with VVV, which fetch over NT$550,000 in an auction last year. File photo courtesy of the Directorate General of Highways

Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) Taiwan's Directorate General of Highways (DGH) was again criticized on Saturday by gay rights groups for banning several letter combinations on vehicle license plates which it deemed to be sensitive or obscene, in particularly the word "GAY."

The controversy dates back to 2012, when the government decided to add an extra letter to the two characters already present on registration plates due to the increasing number of vehicles in the country.

At the same time, it also blacklisted 24 letter combinations which could not be used due to their perceived controversial nature.

These included "MAD", "NUN", "SEX", "SLY", "BAD", "GAY", "ASS", "BUM", "BRA", "CRY", "CAT", "PUP," "ANT", and "APE."

On Saturday, gay rights groups again called on the government to remove the controversial blacklist.

Juan Mei-ying (阮美贏) of the Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBTQ) Hotline Association said although gender-related terms like "SEX", "BRA" and "GAY" may appear sensitive to some, it makes no sense for the transport authority to ban them as that only helps paint a negative connotation on these words.

After all, some people might even prefer to have those letter combinations on their license plates, Juan said.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Lu (呂欣潔), head of the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, also found the ban unjustified, questioning how terms like "CAT" and "CRY" can even be on the blacklist.

The issue was again brought to the spotlight when lawmaker Kao Hung-an (高虹安) of the opposition Taiwan People's Party recently wrote criticism on her Facebook page about how benign animal names such as "CAT," "PUP," "ANT" and "APE" can be considered offensive.

In response, DGH Director General Hsu Cheng-chang (許鉦漳) said the agency will address the issue with proper arrangement after collecting more opinions from members of the public.

(By Wang Shu-fen, Wu Hsin-yun and Ko Lin)

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