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'Wedding banquet' in Taipei to advocate same-sex rights

TAIPEI -- A rally in the form of a Taiwan-style wedding banquet will be held in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei on Sept. 7 to support the legalization of same-sex marriage and other gay rights.

The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, which is organizing the event, is scheduled to propose a Civil Code draft amendment to the Legislature in September and seek lawmakers' support for the amendment, which incorporates the issues of gay marriage, the civil partnership system, adoption and multi-person households.

Chien Chih-chieh, secretary-general of the alliance, said Thursday that at least 80 tables will be set up on Ketagalan Boulevard and that over 800 people have so far registered to attend the “bando.”

The local “bando” culture is a form of clamorous eating around a round table, often in an outdoor space, to mark important events such as weddings, temple celebrations and elections.

“Holding the wedding banquet in front of the Presidential Office is aimed at symbolizing the hope that our marriages can be recognized by the state,” Chien told CNA.

Taiwanese singer-songwriter Sandee Chan will open the event, followed by video showings and talks that will introduce the development of gay rights movements in Taiwan and around the world, as well as propose the next step Taiwan should take in this regard, Chien said.

A campaign that started Sept. 7 last year has so far collected over 100,000 signatures in support of the amendment, among them that of pop diva Chang Hui-mei, better-known as A-Mei, the alliance said.

Several other celebrities, including girl group S.H.E, pop singer Elva Hsiao and actress and singer Rene Liu, have also offered signed T-shirts to help the alliance raise funds to campaign for the legislation, it said.

Rights for same-sex couples have been improving around the world, such as in New Zealand, where same-sex marriage became legal Aug. 19, Chien said, urging the government to ensure more equal rights for gay Taiwanese people.

Taiwan is considered one of the more liberal countries in Asia in terms of homosexual issues and hosts one of the largest gay pride parades in Asia each year.

A poll conducted by the United Daily News in September 2012, which surveyed 1,084 respondents, showed that 55 percent of the respondents agreed to law revisions allowing same-sex marriage, compared with 37 percent in opposition.

The poll, however, also showed that 61 percent of the respondents would not accept their children being gay, while 37 percent said they would be comfortable with it.

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