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Gays protest against government memo

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- More than 100 people protested outside the Taipei City Government building yesterday against the memo issued to high schools about banning homosexual student activities in schools by the Ministry of Education (MOE) basing on a suggestion of the Taipei City Council Civil Affairs Committee (CAC). They accused the government of discrimination against homosexuals and demanded for explanation and apology.

There was a suggestion by the CAC that the Taipei City government should gather relevant departments to discuss how to “avoid high school student groups from leading students into homosexual activities,” so that students can develop “naturally.” The suggestion did not pass in the committee, however, basing on the suggestion, MOE sent memos to high schools advising to ban homosexual activities in schools.

Homosexual communities blasted the action and said it is against the spirit and regulation of the Gender Equity Education Act. More than 110 organizations and 1,500 people signed the petition, saying that the government is encouraging the discrimination and misunderstandings of homosexuality in schools.

Gay & Lesbian Awakening Days (GLAD) committee said homosexuality is not to be “led” into and the government's ban of homosexual groups in schools is restricting the students' “natural” development.

“We do not become homosexual because our friends are homosexual.” said the statement issued by GLAD responding to the government's suggestion.

“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 (卓耕宇), spokesperson of Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association and also a high school counselor, said homosexual high school students have been suffering in a learning environment with lots of discrimination and misunderstandings. Every homosexual student has to go through unnecessary struggles of self-denial. Banning homosexual groups would further worsen the problem and would push the homosexual teenagers into their closets.

Tsang Tsan-chin (曾燦金), secretary general of the MOE, apologized for the inappropriate memo and said the ministry will continue to respect the equality of different sexual orientation.

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