Human rights proponents in Taiwan plead for public to vote in favor of equality

Delegates from religious groups and LGBTQ organizations held a joint press conference today

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Human rights proponents from various walks of life at today's press conference

Human rights proponents from various walks of life at today's press conference (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Representatives from human rights committees and religious associations appealed to the public to support human rights and make the right decision during tomorrow’s vote in a press conference held today (Nov. 23) at the Legislative Yuan.

Hongshi Buddhist Cultural and Educational Foundation, True Light Gospel Church, Taiwan Hesed Association, Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, and Equal Love Taiwan jointly held the conference entitled, “We are all one family, let’s build a loving Taiwan together” 我們都是一家人.共同打造慈愛台灣.

Ye Dahua (葉大華), a member of the Presidential Office’s Human Rights Consultative Committee and Secretary General of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare was present and pleaded that we not forget the national commitment to upholding human rights we made, lest Taiwan’s progress on social issues be disrupted.

Turning the language of the anti-LGBT opposition on its head, Ye asked voters to think carefully about how we can create a friendlier environment for future citizens and ensure “the happiness of the next generation” when voting. Happiness of the Next Generation (下一代幸福聯盟) is, conversely, the name of the anti-marriage equality association that proposed the three referendums opposing LGBTQ rights.

Ye praised the fact that important issues have been brought to the forefront of society thanks to a lower signatory benchmark for initiating referendums, and that young people can now have their say in their own future thanks to the legal voting age being lowered to 18. However, she also lamented that human rights issues were being put to the public vote; especially since there has been no forum for rational public discourse on the issues, and discriminatory campaigns have largely been driven by misinformation and fake news.

Ye further declared that it is our responsibility to create an environment free from discrimination, so the next generation can live and grow comfortably in full control of their own lives. She said people ought to vote to help society progress in a positive direction, and not try to intervene in the human rights progress we are making as a nation.

While the presence of certain religious groups at the conference may be surprising to some, pro-marriage equality campaigners have welcomed allies from every facet of society and have encouraged support from all walks of life.

The marriage equality campaign has long received support from Buddhist organizations and high-profile individuals. Head of Hsuan Chuang University’s Department of Religion and Culture, Ven. Shih Chao-hwei (昭慧法師), made waves after attending a marriage equality hearing two years ago in support of equal rights, and again, posted a message on her Facebook page yesterday encouraging followers to vote for marriage equality in tomorrow’s referendums.

Pastor Joseph Chang of True Light Gospel Church has made it his life mission to bridge the gap between the LGBTQ and Christian communities, having established numerous support groups for LGBTQ Christians and other individuals over the years.

In an open letter posted on the Apple Daily website, the son of the Secretary of anti-equality group Family Guardian Coalition has also pleaded for citizens to vote against referendums 10, 11, and 12 (anti-LGBTQ), despite his family's inclinations.

Voting times are between 8 a.m. and 4.p.m tomorrow (Nov. 24). Referendum results are expected to be published in the evening or early the next day (Nov. 25)