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Film & Webinar on Marriage Equality and LGBTQ+ Rights in Taiwan Organized by the Chair of Taiwan Studies at the University of Ottawa

TAIPEILOVE* -- Film & Discussion on Marriage Equality and LGBTQ+ Rights in Taiwan

A memorandum of agreement renewing the Taiwan Studies program at the University of Ottawa was signed in May and all kinds of Taiwan related academic events are continuing. As part of the 40th anniversary of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa, Professor Scott Simon, the Research Chair on Taiwan Studies, organized a film and webinar on Marriage Equality and LGBTQ+ rights in Taiwan. The goal was to celebrate a human rights success in the world – Taiwan being the first place in Asia to recognize marriage equality. 

The film Taipeilove*—a documentary exploring the perception of homosexuality in Taiwanese society—was made available to the 37 registered participants through a private, time-limited link and the film’s director, Lucie Liu in Berlin, joined attendees, including Professor Scott Simon and his spouse Ma Chih-kai, professors and students from the University of Ottawa, as well as a very lively group of people from across Québec and Canada, for a Zoom webinar. 

Scott Simon began the webinar with an introduction to issues related to marriage equality and LGBTQ+ rights in Taiwan. This was followed by a short presentation by Lucie Liu, during which she discussed how she became interested in the topic that the documentary explores, and how she made it, and then an animated Q&A and discussion session. 

There were many questions about different aspects of LGBTQ+ rights in Taiwan, addressing issues such as trans-sexual rights, adoption of children, marriage with foreign spouses, and intersectionality. People mentioned Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s transgender minister and expressed great interest in similarities between the indigenous peoples’ rights movements and LGBTQ+ movements. 

Questions were raised about the roles of Christian churches and other religious organizations, both in opposing marriage equality and supporting it. Christian churches, especially those subject to interference from American and Australian missionaries, have been most strongly opposed to marriage equality, although the Presbyterian Yu Shan Theological Seminary publicly supported it. 

There were also questions about whether support for the law or opposition to it correlated to people’s particular ethnic group identity or party affiliation, with the answers being that there is little difference based on such factors. There was also discussion about the relative absence of overt violence against LGBTQ+ people or police violence, especially in comparison to the USA, Canada, France, and Germany which all still have serious problems with public homophobia. In this regard, Taiwan serves as a beacon for human rights in Asia and in the world.