TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Anti-equality referendums triumphing on Saturday (Nov. 24) has left many within the LGBTQ community feeling alone in society, so students at a senior high school in northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan County (桃園) decided to organize a spontaneous activity to show support for their peers.
Photographs have been making the rounds on social media of several students at National Wu-Ling Senior High School (武陵高級中等學校) offering free hugs and carrying signs emblazoned with messages of encouragement.
Students embrace to reassure each other after a defeat in last weekend's referenda (Image by Jamie Cho)
The students, who can be seen standing in front of rainbow flags, held up signboards saying, “Society couldn’t offer you equality, but I can offer you a hug.” The activity, the students say, was to make sure all still felt welcome at the school after Saturday’s referenda.
Students writing messages of support to the LGBTQ community (Image by Jamie Cho)
Some students also helped organize a music concert in support of same-sex marriage and equal rights, which took place at the school’s fun fair this year. As well as this, the students have created an Instagram account where they regularly post artwork, photographs, and other messages of support for the LGBTQ community.
Before the referenda took place, 20 high schools across Taiwan participated in a mock election administered in conjunction with the Central Election Committee. The mock results were announced on Nov. 23. In all cases, students voted in favor of equality.
Students voted in favor of same-sex marriage (14) and LGBTQ education (15) (Image by Referendum For 18)
Around 77 percent of students agreed that the Civic Code should be altered to allow same-sex couples the right to marry, in contrast to just 30.9 percent of the public in the actual referendum. Over 80 percent of students agreed that LGBTQ issues should be included in gender equality education at all stages of the national curriculum, as opposed to just 32 percent of voters last Saturday.
The results show a fairly obvious divide in opinion by age across the electorate. As senior high school students are largely aged between 15 and 18, some (but not all) of the participants in the mock election will have been eligible to vote in the public referenda.
The results of all ten high school mock referenda can be viewed on the Referendum For 18 Facebook page.