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Taiwan court rules trans woman can change gender without surgery

Advocacy group describes decision as a ‘landmark judgment’

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Taipei, Taiwan (Photo public domain)

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A court in Taiwan last week ruled a transgender woman can legally change her gender on her household registration without surgery.

The Taipei Times reported the Dasi Household Registration Office in Taoyuan, a city outside of the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, in 2019 denied the woman’s application to change her gender to female. The Taipei High Administrative Court on Sept. 23 ruled in her favor.

The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, a Taiwanese advocacy group, described the ruling as a “landmark judgment.”

“The decision clearly declared that the executive order of the Ministry of the Interior for compulsory surgery was unconstitutional, and positively affirmed that transgender citizens have constitutional autonomy and the right to privacy of information, and under certain conditions, to request a change of gender registration,” said the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights. “The judgment has correctly pointed out that gender identity and congenital nature are two things, and that compulsory surgery is … unconstitutional.”

The Taipei Times reported the Interior Ministry can appeal the ruling.

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Hong Kong activist dismisses calls for Gay Games boycott

WTA suspended China tournaments after tennis player disappeared

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Hong Kong Marriage Equality Co-founder Gigi Chao (Photo courtesy of OutRight Action International)

HONG KONG — An LGBTQ activist in Hong Kong on Tuesday dismissed calls to boycott the 2023 Gay Games over China’s human rights record.

“In Hong Kong, the team behind Gay Games has really worked tirelessly to bring it to Hong Kong and it will be a very good opportunity to showcase diversity and people working together and the human spirit at its best,” Gigi Chao told the Los Angeles Blade during a telephone interview from Hong Kong. “So, if it all gets rather political and if you twist the sentiments of what they want China to be, it will just really not work.”

Chao is the co-founder of Hong Kong Marriage Equality, a group that seeks to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the former British colony. Chao also founded the Faith in Love Foundation, a group that seeks to increase awareness of LGBTQ issues in Hong Kong.  

Chao is a member of the OutRight Action International board of directors. Chao is slated to speak in the group’s annual summit that will take place virtually this week.

“All eyes are peeled on the events of next year: The Beijing Olympics, the relationship between Beijing and the U.S. as relationships either improve or sour over the course of the next 12 months and also trade and the global economic situation … it’s not a rosy picture by all means,” Chao told the Blade. “Everybody is bracing for the worst in terms of how the world recovers from COVID, but LGBTIQ rights continue.”

Chao said Dennis Philipse, a Hong Kong resident who co-chairs Gay Games Hong Kong, and his colleagues “want the Gay Games to be a celebration of the human spirit in terms of sport.”

“In Hong Kong, there’s certainly no shortage of people engaged in sport and enjoying sports,” said Chao.

Gay Games Hong Kong in September announced the postponement of the quadrennial event until 2023 because of the pandemic. The Federation of Gay Games, which oversees the Gay Games, awarded the games to Hong Kong over D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Hong Kong was a British colony until China regained control of it in 1997.

Upwards of 2 million people took part in pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong in 2019.

Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which, according to human rights activists, makes it easier for authorities to punish anyone who challenges the Chinese government, took effect in 2020. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is closely aligned with the Chinese government, supports the statute.

The Women’s Tennis Association last week announced the suspension of tournaments in Hong Kong and throughout China in response to the disappearance of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star, after she publicly accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. The Biden administration on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics that are slated to take place in Beijing in February.

“The Federation of Gay Games continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong regarding COVID-19, the National Security Law and all other aspects that affect the safety and security of our event,” Sean Fitzgerald, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games, told the Blade in a statement after the Women’s Tennis Association announced it had suspended all of its tournaments in China. “We are committed to hosting Gay Games 11 in Hong Kong in November 2023.”

Chao acknowledged Gay Games organizers are “facing a lot of opposition from all directions.” Chao also noted Hong Kong’s government is “not actually positively promoting it.”

“If we can get really high-profile athletes to participate, I think that’s going to be a huge call for everybody to participate,” said Chao.

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Thai Constitutional Court rules against marriage equality

Advocacy group challenged Section 1448 of country’s Civil and Commercial Code

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(Photo public domain)

BANGKOK — Thailand’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled a law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman in the country is constitutional.

The Foundation for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights and Justice, a Thai advocacy group, filed a lawsuit that challenged Section 1448 of the country’s Civil and Commercial Code, which does not extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Bloomberg said the Constitutional Court in its ruling said Thai lawmakers “should draft laws that guarantee the rights for gender diverse people.”

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch who focuses on Thailand, in a tweet said the decision makes the “government’s pledges to promote gender equality meaningless.”

Taiwan in 2019 became the first country in Asia to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Thai Cabinet in 2018 approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. The government last year backed a second version of the measure.

Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, a Thai MP who is a member of the Move Forward Party, has introduced a marriage equality bill.

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Hong Kong Pride themed ‘stay in love’ held events inside this year

Unable to hold a Pride parade due to pandemic restrictions organisers created ‘The Rainbow Market’ a new concept of an LGBTQ+ bazaar

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Graphic courtesy of Hong Kong Pride Parade

HONG KONG, S.A.R., China – The annual Hong Kong Pride Parade was scaled back to in-person events Saturday under the theme of ‘Stay in Love’. Unable to hold a Pride parade this year due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic restrictions, organisers created ‘The Rainbow Market’ a new concept of a bazaar with an LGBTQ+ twist.

According to the organisers the Rainbow Market was divided into three zones: The Market Zone, which featured booths by different businesses that support the LGBTQ+ community; the Stay in Love Zone, where booths were set up by sponsors, participating groups, and the official activity booths of Hong Kong Pride Parade; and the Pride Zone, where visitors had plenty of photo ops at different rainbow art installations. 

“Even though you weren’t courageous enough to set foot on the streets, even if we can’t parade in the streets that day, there will always be a way to support the LGBT community,” Hong Kong Pride Parade organisers said in a statement in September when the events calendar was announced.

“Although we could not take to the street this year, we are satisfied with the atmosphere. I think the format of the market can bring everyone closer and there is more cooperation. I believe every one of us is happy with meeting each other today,” representative Cuby Lee of the Hong Kong Pride Parade Committee told the South China Morning Post.

The event was attended by hundreds who lined up early at the venue’s entrance to have their temperatures checked and comply with the other pandemic protocols. The crowd then milled about the three main areas which were comprised of;

  • Market Zone – around 30 small booths of different types of LGBT supportive businesses.
  • Stay in Love Zone – around 20 booths of sponsors, participating groups and the official activity booths of Hong Kong Pride Parade
  • Pride Zone – different types of rainbow art installations for photo taking

Organisers also announced that the annual Pride parade is slated to return in the Fall of 2022. The parade will kick off at 2 pm next year from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. The event includes entertain, vendors and after-parties. Everyone is encouraged to wear yellow, the color in the pride rainbow that symbolizes sunlight.

This year’s events in the Rainbow Market were also attended by the UK in Hong Kong, Consul General Brian Davidson, who tweeted that he and his family went to the Rainbow Market in Kwun Tong and took this amazing opportunity to meet and interact with friends and participants.

The coronavirus pandemic had also postponed Gay Games Hong Kong 2022. The committee organizing the quadrennial international LGBTQ sports event scheduled to take place in Hong Kong in November 2022, announced on Sept. 15 that the Gay Games will be postponed for one year due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After much internal deliberation and in consultation with the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) leadership and board, it has been decided that Gay Games 11, originally scheduled for November 2022, will be postponed to November 2023 in Hong Kong,” a statement released by the organizing committee says.

“This decision has been made primarily due to the unpredictable progression of COVID variants and the corresponding travel restrictions that continue to make it challenging for participants from around the world to make plans to travel to Hong Kong,” the statement says.

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