This episode is a special cross-cast, co-produced by The News Lens and Ketagalan Media.

‘My mom saw the picture I posted on Facebook, kissing and holding hands with my boyfriend. She said it was like I was using a knife to tear her heart open.’

We take a close look at what it is like to be gay in Taiwan today and discuss whether the advance towards marriage equality actually reflects deeper progress across Taiwan society.

On May 24, after decades of protest by the LGBT community in Taiwan, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. While the court’s decision didn’t immediately legalize gay marriage, it gave Taiwan’s government two years to implement the ruling, and said if the law isn’t changed within two years, same-sex couples could get married regardless.

In the wake of the Court’s decision, Taiwan was heralded for being one of the most progressive countries in Asia. While this may be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Taiwan society is particularly advanced when it comes to accepting people from the LGBT community.

Following decades of silence about issues like homosexuality, HIV and AIDS, misinformation and fearmongering from a few corners appear to have led to an underlying current of misunderstanding and widespread discrimination. While this situation is probably not unique to Taiwan, when coupled with the complexities of the traditional family relationships, simply being gay or transgender in Taiwan today may be more difficult than it seems.

This episode features Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association’s Jennifer Lu and Ketagalan Media’s William Yang.

They give personal accounts of: what it is like to “come out” in Taiwan; why their parents thought being gay or lesbian was an illness that could be fixed; why parents in Taiwan feel a heightened sense of shame when their child is gay; the fallacy that religion is to blame for the opposition to same-sex marriage; whether the momentum created by the same-sex marriage movement will transfer to other human rights causes; and, the real-life implications of the same-sex marriage decision for Taiwan society and other countries in Asia.

Today’s guests:

Jennifer Lu, 34, is a long-time gay rights campaigner and activist with the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association.

William Yang, 28, is a journalist with Ketagalan Media, where he writes about social issues in Taiwan.

This podcast is available via the SoundCloud, Stitcher and iTunes apps.

 

The Ketagalan Project

History and culture are the frames that prescribe how we understand the world around us. Our co-hosts present in-depth interviews on how art, culture, history and politics intertwine throughout time and space to connect us. Find out about the cosmopolitan modern Taipei downtown in the 1920s, regional trade, the future of aboriginal culture and more.