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Taiwanese protest anti-Gay government memo
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Taiwanese protest anti-Gay government memo

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

More than 100 protestors gathered outside the Taipei City Government headquarters on March 1, demanding an apology for an anti-Gay memo sent to Taiwan high schools by the Ministry of Education.

According to the Taiwan Post newspaper, the ministry had circulated a suggestion by the Taipei City Council Civil Affairs Committee that city departments should discuss ways to "avoid high school student groups from leading students into homosexual activities."

The ministry expressed the hope that, free from such influences, students might develop "naturally."

Taiwanese LGBT activists said the ministry's memo violated the country's Gender Equity Education Act.

More than 110 organizations and 1,500 people signed a petition saying that the government is encouraging discrimination against LGBT students.

Gay and Lesbian Awakening Days (GLAD), a Taiwanese LGBT group, said that no one is "led" into being Gay, and added that the government's ban on LGBT groups in schools is restricting the students' "natural" development.

"We do not become homosexual because our friends are homosexual," said GLAD's statement.

"Sexual orientation is not about age, and we would not admit we are homosexual only after we are 18. Through homosexual groups and with the support of peers with similar experiences, we can overcome the feelings of inferiority and fear pressed on us by the society and understand and accept ourselves."

Cho Keng-yu, spokesperson of Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association and a high school counselor, told the Taiwan Post that LGBT high school students suffer in a learning environment characterized by discrimination and misunderstanding.

Ministry of Education Secretary General Tsang Tsan-chin apologized for the memo and said his ministry will continue to respect the equality of different sexual orientations.

Taiwan's Gender Equity Education Act of 2003 prohibits discrimination against LGBT students. Discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace was outlawed in 2007.

A poll of 6,439 adults released in 2006 by the National Union of Taiwan Women's Associations/Constitutional Reform Alliance found that 75% believed being LGBT is acceptable, while 25% thought it unacceptable.

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