Monday, September 23, 2013

Taiwan: Religious Coalition Opposes Same-Sex Marriage with Outrageous Rhetoric

The struggle for LGBTQ equality is taking place across the globe, and Taiwan's struggle has been gaining international attention. Taiwan currently does not recognize same-sex marriages, but the country's LGBTQ rights supporters are speaking out in favor of marriage equality. Earlier this month, over 1,200 Taiwanese took part in a mock wedding banquet organized by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights to voice their support for marriage equality. In 2012, two women wed during Taiwan's first same-sex Buddhist wedding, reports AFP, sending a powerful statement to the country's LGBTQ community.

Unfortunately, Taiwan has its own Religious Right that opposes marriage equality and promotes toxic stereotypes about LGBTQ people. The Taipei Times reports that a coalition of religious groups called the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families Taiwan* has publicly condemned same-sex marriage. The coalition recently hosted a press conference at the Legislative Yuan to proclaim their signature campaign to prevent the Taiwanese parliament from legalizing same-sex marriage.

“Legalizing same-sex marriage is a reverse tide in the international movement for sexual liberation. It is not progressive, rather, it is a downward step that will lead to the collapse of civilizations,” said Unification Church Taiwan vice president Paul Chang. “Legalizing same-sex marriage is legalizing adultery, incest and group sex,” he insisted.

Taiwan Lutheran Church bishop Chen Chih-hung alleged that legalizing same-sex marriage would encourage homosexuality and undermine heterosexual marriage. He warned that legalizing same-sex marriage would allegedly end family lineages. “If, one day, after the bill to legalize same-sex marriage is passed, if your child or grandchild tells you that he or she is homosexual, and thus your family lineage would stop right there, can you accept it?” Chen Chih-hung asked. He outrageously claimed that same-sex marriage would cause a decline in Taiwan's birth rate and an increase in HIV infections, according to the Taipei Times.

Sound familiar? The homophobic statements of the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families echo those of the western Religious Right. East and West, homophobes falsely associate same-sex marriage with sexual depravity, HIV, and the corrosion of civilization itself. Fortunately, voices in Taiwan's press and religious community are condemning the coalition.

First, a September 21st editorial in the Taipei Times called the alliance's anti-gay statements "an appalling amount of claptrap and intolerance". The editorial tackled the flawed claims of the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families, adding that the coalitions claims were irrational and unloving.
"While everyone has the right to their own view on what does or should constitute a legal marriage, the pronouncements made by some of the religious representatives should not go unchallenged, especially because they fall into the same broad categories used by bigots of all stripes worldwide.

The first of these fallacies was “the end of civilization as we know it” warning ... This warning is almost as old as time itself and is used for every manner of dire predictions. Civilizations do collapse, but as a result of a combination of factors including environmental and climate changes, hostile neighbors and social or cultural problems."
The editorial contested the claim that same-sex marriage will result in population decline, reminding readers that many factors affect a person's choice whether or not to procreate.
"Women are choosing to have fewer children because of greater education and job opportunities for them, rising costs of education and living, lack of affordable childcare and other socio-economic factors. Same-sex unions are not a factor. Pressure from parents on their descendants can be intense, but that does not always lead to good marriages or children. Being gay also does not mean you cannot procreate or be a good parent."
Next, the China Post news staff was equally critical of the coalition's homophobic statements, calling their claims illogical and ill-informed in a September 21st commentary.
"That these anti-gay marriage groups have the freedom to state an opinion cannot guarantee their attention to basic logic. Whether you believe homosexuality is a genetic condition or a personal choice, legalizing same-sex marriage can do as much to create more homosexual people as installing Braille can lead to blindness, but it does have the potential to lend dignity to the lives of these individuals and reduce the public and private discrimination which they currently face."

Finally, in a September 22nd commentary at the China Post,  Daniel J. Bauer reflected on the coalition's statements as a Catholic priest. He expressed dismay at the ridiculous claims made at the coalition press conference, pointing out the gaping holes in their statements.
"One fact that should bother thinking people is the alarmist spirit of the entire press conference. These religious leaders had the right to speak their minds, no question about that. But what was on their minds?

It is not acceptable to be a homosexual? What does that mean? As a Christian, I believe that all people are God's children. And speaking of children, are students (or persons of any age) who feel irresistibly drawn to their own gender morally or humanly flawed?


Some 50 years ago, well-intentioned political leaders relied on the domino effect argument to urge Washington to go to war in Vietnam. “If Vietnam falls to communism, like dominos, one by one, other Asian countries will follow.” The claim proved to be as bogus as a wig. Legalization of same-sex marriage will in time change social attitudes, but not in the way these leaders say. In addition, can anyone with balanced reason actually see a link between same-sex marriage and incest, adultery, and promiscuity?"

Enlightened people in Taiwan and the rest of the world must remain vigilant against homophobia. While the Alliance of Religious Groups for the Love of Families is a disturbing development, it will undoubtedly face challenges from Taiwanese who see through their hateful rhetoric.

* Other news sources such as Gay Star News translate the group's name as Taiwan Religious Groups Caring Family Alliance.


  1. Interesting that gay marriage legislation is being considered in Taiwan, since that would be the first completely non-Western country to enact it (counting Latin America and South Africa as at least quasi-Western).

    Interesting also that the "Buddhist master" quoted in the Taipei Times article is just as prejudiced and ill-informed as the Christian clerics. By and large, religion is religion.

  2. (Wait. Where the @#$% did my first comment go!?)

    Infidel -- It's great to see people in all corners of the globe press for LGBTQ equality. I hope that Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage soon.

    The Buddhist leader taking part in the Alliance for Families and What-Have-You-and-Whatnot was definitely as narrow-minded as his Christian counterparts. However, the two women who married in 2012 were wed by a female Buddhist leader who sounded pretty open-minded. All religions have fundies, but they also have decent people doing good things. Let's hope the latter triumph over the former.


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