What you need to know
Jennifer Lu of the Taiwan Equality Campaign answers our questions on Taiwan's post-marriage equality landscape.
Taiwan’s 2020 Pride Parade will be held on October 31. In the past few years, Taiwan’s same-sex marriage legislation has been in the media limelight, especially after it took effect on May 24, 2019. LGBT groups didn’t stop pursuing their rights after same-sex marriage legalization. What are their goals now? What is the unfinished work in the legal system? How are LGBT groups dealing with their political differences?
We interviewed Jennifer Lu, general convenor and spokesperson for the Taiwan Equality Campaign, for her insights on a “post-marriage equality” era in Taiwan.
How did same-sex marriage legalization affect your organization’s initiatives?
Lu: The passage of the marriage equality law meant that one of our mission phases has ended. We spent quite some time thinking about our platform’s future before deciding that the existence of a civic group for policy lobbying and advocacy is still necessary. The Marriage Equality Coalition had taken on this role in the past because of its visibility. Because of the importance of including other LGBT topics, we renamed our platform the (彩虹平權大平台).
We hope to work with other groups to push for an anti-discrimination law in the coming three to five years. We don’t want to only focus on sexual orientation, but also discriminatory language aimed at LGBT people.
What’s the biggest impact of the same-sex marriage legislation?
Lu: The way it has influenced our national system. Because of the law, Taiwanese now have to face LGBT people and their spouses and families in different layers of our social structure. In the past, LGBT groups didn’t exist within the national system, because the government didn’t know that LGBT needs were both on individual and community levels. Now that LGBT couples are allowed to marry and build their family, they must interact with government institutions, schools, and neighborhoods.
These interactions provide everyone a chance to meet an LGBT person in real life. The LGBT community used to avoid interacting with so-called mainstream society because they were unwilling to share their true identity. But the passage of the law, to me, is not only about legalizing same-sex marriage, but also about the ripple effects it has brought about. When the LGBT community interacts with this country’s system frequently, society will have to choose how they want to treat this group of people.
What kind of problems arose out of the same-sex marriage legislation?
Lu: LGBT organizations are limited by their resources and manpower, so they often focus on policies at the central government level. But a lot of details, whether certain policies can be enacted or pushed forward, depend on local governments.
We lost our 2018 referendum, but a new wave of politicians has been elected since then. They’re not only in Taipei. Even if some local legislators are in the minority, they’re more progressive and they want to change the status quo. We have to spend time understanding how local politics operate in each region.
Why do you think it’s still important for the LGBT community to keep participating in Pride and other movements?
Lu: Last year, our Pride parade was immersed in a celebratory mood, different from the pain and tears seen in earlier years. But I think LGBT organizations have been working hard to let their peers know that this is the perfect timing to boost communication. This process has also allowed us to see what else we’re missing. For example, Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association started hosting a transgender parade, which non-LGBT groups also supported with their presence.
And in reality, we haven’t reached that ideal world yet. We have to keep on fighting.
Taiwan’s difference from western countries is that we only started to communicate after same-sex marriage legalization. We might tend to avoid conflicts or sensitive topics for historical reasons, but the work of communication is only starting now. True gender equality is still far away. We have to keep working on it.
TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)
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