Opponents of same-sex marriage slammed for abusive behaviour at Taipei rally
Taiwanese politicians and gay rights supporters on Monday expressed dismay at the aggressive behaviour of participants at a rally over the weekend opposing same-sex marriage.
On Saturday, tens of thousands took to the streets in Taipei to voice their opposition to a gay marriage bill currently being considered by Taiwan’s legislature.
Wearing white hats, surgical masks and red armbands that identified them as “security,” large groups of protesters formed human chains to block the movement of gay rights activists at the scene.
“There were so many crazy things going on,” said Ketty Chen, an academic at National Taiwan University who observed the rally. “Gay rights activists were chased down, encircled and boxed in. A gay man was forcibly prevented from leaving.”
“A number of the male protesters grabbed at the bodies of female gay rights activists,” she added. “They followed no rules.”
Organised by a coalition of Christian and family groups known as the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance, the protesters said they feared the legalisation of gay marriage would undermine traditional values, confuse gender roles for children and lead to greater sexual promiscuity.
Most said that while they respected gay people, they could not accept same-sex marriages on the grounds of social stability.
However, the conduct of some protesters raised concerns.
“One woman screamed at a gay man: ‘Because of you, now Taiwanese can have sex with animals,’” Chen said.
Several protesters prayed over same-sex marriage advocates who had been restrained on the ground, while one came dressed in a Nazi uniform.
“I am against homosexuality, and so were the Nazis; this is why I am wearing this uniform. I don’t care if others criticise me because those who criticise me will be condemned as well,” the protester told the Taipei Times.
However, Paul Chang, protest leader and vice-president of the Unification Church Taiwan, denied that protesters acted aggressively.
“The people at the rally were kind, restrained and peaceful and allowed same-sex groups to move around freely,” Chang said.
Taiwan is generally seen as gay-friendly. Taipei hosts the largest annual gay pride parade in Asia and recent surveys suggest that more than half of Taiwanese support same-sex marriage.
“In a democratic society, it is fairly normal to allow split opinions on public policy making process,” said Cheng Li-chun, a legislator with main opposition Democratic Progressive Party. “However, we hope all discussion can be rational, reasonable and avoid harmful language and harassment of non-heterosexual people.”
If the current bill is passed, Taiwan would become only the second place in the region – after New Zealand – to legalise same-sex marriages.
“I still believe Taiwanese are tolerant and open-minded and those who are hateful, saying homosexual marriage leads to bestiality, child molestation, promiscuity, sexual liberation are in the minority,” Chen said.