LGBT Society taiwan

Taiwan’s Same-Sex Marriage Referendum: Fashion Swings Into Pro-Motion

Taiwanese voters on Saturday will decide whether or not they support the legalization of same-sex marriage. A show of opposition would risk turning back the 2017 acquired official support that LGBT activists worldwide called "a first for Asia". Fashion too has now slipped into pro-motion mode. 

Taiwan gay rights. Image via Foreign Policy
“Actvists carry rainbow umbrellas during a demonstration outside the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) to demand rights on same-sex marriages in Taipei on July 11, 2015. Hundreds of people marched in Taiwan in support for a controversial bill on same-sex marriage under screening in parliament.” Photo credits: SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images, via Foreign Policy

The ballot asks whether voters believe the civil code should let men marry men and women marry women or whether their unions should be protected by a different type of legal “process.” LGBT couples support the civil code change so they can share assets, legal custody over children and insurance benefits — just like any other married couple.

Proponents of same-sex marriage are now gently pushing younger generations to the polls because they are likely to sympathize, but may not know they actually have the right to vote. The untapped resource that needs to overflow, so to speak.

Taiwan’s same-sex marriage campaign gained major momentum on 24 May 2017, Taiwan News reported, when the Constitutional Court ordered that “parliament change the laws within two years to legalize same-sex marriage”. People in the Taiwanese LGBT community celebrated the decision as a first for Asia, where overall (religious or social) protocol often limit marriage to the custom union of one man and one woman.

Model Beikuo Instagram
Model/ Influencer/ Designer Bei kuo earlier this week shared her call to pro-active action on Instagram. Design by The End lingerie; photography by Chien Wenlin

The Position That Is Opposition

“Taiwan’s legislators should use the referendum results as a “direction” when they consider how to change laws,”  Voice of America quoted one justice ministry spokesman as stating. Nonetheless, legislators are not yet legally bound to honor these “commitments”. “Courts will consider local marriage licensing offices in violation of the law by May 2019, if they refuse same-sex couples,” the representative said.

Fashion too has been raising awareness about the Taiwanese same-sex marriage cause, with founder and designer Bei Kuo of The End lingerie a standout example of such support.

Opposition after the May 2017 ruling came in when churches and NGOs who advocate traditional family values argued that same-sex marriages would hurt the development of those couples’ children. Others worry the potential ruling would come into conflict with social welfare when one partner in a childless couple dies. Adult children often care for their aging parents in Taiwan.

Proponents of same-sex marriage are now gently pushing younger generations to the polls because they are likely to sympathize, but may not know they actually have the right to vote. The untapped resource that needs to overflow, so to speak.

The Beginning Of The End

Lingerie, that is. Fashion too has been raising awareness on the Taiwanese cause, with The End being a standout example of such support. The brand features collections of quirkily edgy lingerie “made with eco fabrics and naughty thoughts”. “Provocation” as the brand’s middle name, The End infuses the best parts of S&M and punk symbols into the most humdrum habits of dressing, consistently promoting “the fearlessness underneath it all”.

In one interview with Ladygunn, a music and people publication based in New York/ Los Angeles and Stockholm, Taiwanese founder of The End Bei Kuo spoke about her in the past having been taken to see a psychiatrist by her parents because she was dating a girl. Hiding in confusion is not an option and milady speaks from experience.

According to Bei, her assortment is an ode to “being free in yourself and sexuality no matter what orientation, color or size”. Bei, who earlier this week shared the featured image of this article on her personal Bad Gal Bei Bei Instagram account, serves as a self-designated custodian for those who “explode into their real selves without qualms”; The End stands for empowerment. As does the vote for same-sex marriage.

Speaking of getting dressed… Another way to garner support in style is to incorporate a little into your wardrobe by adding a little rainbow into your everyday outfit — a great way to get a conversation going. Nevertheless, merely donning the shirt or adding the pin doesn’t stretch all the every sized way. Now is the time for Taiwan to be out, loud and proud.

Get vocal and get voting.

Image from the Love Is King Facebook page.
115 celebrities on 17 May 2017 showed their support for Taiwan’s LGBT community and their right to legally wed. Source: Taiwan News

The Punch Celebrity Packs

A total of 115 celebrities back in May 2017 featured on a giant “See Through” wall erected at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei City to mark the 17 May 17 International Day Against Homophobia. The event followed the launch of the “We Are One” song, watch the MV below, brought to audiences by eight female pop singers from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China to bring the same event to the public’s attention.

The celebrities pressed their combined fanbases to “face up and not discriminate” (“正視不歧視” in traditional Chinese characters), with the first half of the statement also translating as “See Through,” the chosen name for the event.

The list of famous entertainers supporting the activity included Taiwanese top brass such as Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹) aka A-Mei and Jolin Tsai (蔡依林).The former pop diva, who has been a “Rainbow Ambassador” for the Taipei Gay Pride Parade since 2007, in 2013 became the first celebrity in Taiwan to sign a petition in support of same-sex marriage and to recognize diverse forms of families.

A-Mei continues her campaign in unrelenting fashion.

With pop culture at large throwing its weight behind the same-sex marriage vote, a groundbreaking shockwave may be sent across the Asian continent. With celebs and brands taking a stand for empowerment, the Taiwanese people on Saturday 24 November can do the same thing. Take a stand. Empower to the end.

VOTE!

This fresh off the runway: Taiwan voters on 24 November rejected legalising same-sex marriages in a three-fold series of referendums. The Tsai government stated it would still press on with new laws, but these may now be weaker.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Bei Kuo and The End lingerie.
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Elsbeth van Paridon

China Fashion/ Urban Lifestyle Expert, Editor-in-Chief at Temper Magazine
Elsbeth van Paridon holds a degree in Sinology from the University of Leiden (Netherlands) and additionally is just another run-of-the-mill fashion aficionada.

After tackling Beijing for some six years where she worked for China International Publishing Group, she spent a moment in time moseying down steep alleyways and writing about their fashionable and underground features in Hong Kong.

Van Paridon most recently managed to claw her way through a Europe-based academic endeavor called "Journalism". 'Tis in such fashion that she has now turned her lust for China Fashion/ Lifestyle and Underground into a full time occupation.

Van Paridon hunts down the latest in Chinese menswear, women’s clothing, designer newbies, established names, changes in the nation’s street scenery, close-ups of particular trends presently at play or of historical socio-cultural value in Chinaplus a selection of budding photographers.

Paired with a deep devotion to China’s urban underground scene, van Paridon holds a particular interest in the topics of androgyny, the exploration of individuality and the power that is the Key Opinion Leader (the local term for “influencers”) in contemporary China.
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