Showing posts with label Gay Marriage Taiwan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Marriage Taiwan. Show all posts

December 14, 2019

Door is Opening Wider for LGBTQ in Taiwan



The door has opened wider for gay content in Taiwan since the island became the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in May, and companies like CEO Jay Lin’s Portico Media are hoping to turn LGBTQ stories into good business.

The firm is ramping up its development of originals on its GagaOOLala platform, Asia’s first and only OTT streamer for LGBTQ content, and is hosting events to bring industry players in this space together from across the region.

The ground appears to be fertile. More than a hundred attendees came to Taipei to discuss the future of streaming and of gay-content creation earlier this month at the first GOL Summit, organized by GagaOOLala’s development arm, GOL Studios. And between this year and next, a record-setting dozen or so gay-themed films will be getting a theatrical release in Taiwan.

The legalization of same-sex marriage has “allowed us to open that door a little bit wider when persuading sponsors, platforms or government to see [LGBT representation] as something that’s beneficial for them as well,” Lin said. “And it makes it easier for us to find production and distribution partners outside of Taiwan,” particularly among those who are hopeful that their countries will one day have similar rights. 

Thai filmmaker and summit attendee Anusorn Soisa-ngim said he was “jealous, honestly” of Taiwan’s marriage law and creative freedoms. “My country produces a lot of boys’-love films and gay content, but they never actually accept LGBT people for real,” he said. He is currently developing a sequel to his first feature “Present Perfect,” which will continue the story of a romance between a Thai man and his Japanese partner.

Portico Media began as a distributor in 2009, then branched out into production services in 2014 and gay-themed publishing the year after that. Initiated in 2017 and now planning a global launch next year, its OTT service GagaOOLala hopes to become Asia’s Netflix for gay content.

The platform currently has more than 270,000 members in 21 countries, about half of them in Taiwan, with the next largest markets Thailand (17% of users), the Philippines (13%) and Malaysia (7.3%). As of the end of October, the website currently has 179,000 unique users and its app 32,000.

At the GOL Summit, participants discussed current trends in Asian LGBT content, agreeing that sex was often expressed less overtly in the region, and budgets are generally low.

For Taiwan, that has generally meant the content of lesser quality than in France or Europe, said Gene Yao, CEO of Taiwanese distributor Swallow Wings. Taiwan’s gay films are “not very artistic, and are rather lowbrow and tacky in tone. The dialogue is at a TV soap level because that makes it feel closer to the audiences,” he said.

A lot of stories in Asia to date have centered on the painful experiences of coming out, coming of age, the obligation to get married, and rejection from society or family, Lin said. But these days, people are seeking escapism, and so GagaOOLala is developing a slew of lighthearted romantic comedies, its most popular genre so far. “People are looking for a fantasy or imagining of how great life could be, not a mirror of how harsh life actually is,” he said.

About 6% of the content it currently hosts are originals, including “The Teacher,” which just netted Winnie Chang the Golden Horse Award for best supporting actress, and “Handsome Stewardess,” a Singapore-based rom-com about a butch flight attendant from Taiwanese LGBT filmmaker Zero Chou.

The latter might seem like a generic or trivial tale, but such stories “can actually have a huge impact in a country like Singapore, where LGBT stories are required to have a sad or tragic ending… because gays are supposed to be seen as having tragic lives,” said Lin. 

Another upcoming GagaOOLala original is “5 Lessons in Happiness,” an anthology of five uplifting short films from five directors, including Chou and Nancy Chen (“Big Three Dragons”).

Chou, whose 2007 film “Spider Lilies” (pictured) won the Teddy Award for best feature at Berlin, is currently four films into her six-film “Asian Cities Rainbow Project,” in which she’s shooting a queer film in metropolises across Asia to stream on GagaOOLala. She’s already hit Taipei, Singapore, Beijing, and Chengdu and will head to Hong Kong and Malaysia next year.

Shooting in censorious China had to happen underground without proper permits, for fear that authorities would shut down production. “I chose to work in China because doing so can help Taiwan reaffirm its own values,” said Chou.

“If we want gender equality and gay rights to forever be a part of Taiwanese values, we can’t stick to simply trying to convince only those here at home. We have to make an effort to push our values abroad for our progress here to be sustainable,” she explained. “We’re using cinema as activism, to create a movement.”

Two and a half years ago, China still hadn’t fully banned gay content from streaming, and so Chou managed to sell the online rights to her Beijing and Chengdu films for $43,000 (RMB300,000) to a Chinese LGBT platform — which was subsequently wiped from the internet entirely just months later as authorities cracked down on such fare.

A number of LGBT projects and creators who have hit dead ends in China are trickling over to Taiwan now instead, where Taiwanese partners “are breathing a second life into them,” said Lin.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine any state-affiliated Chinese organizations getting up on stage to proclaim their commitment to gay rights, as Taiwan Public Television’s president Tsao Wen-Chieh did at the summit when she took the stage to describe their recent LGBT-focused programming and her commitment to developing more.

“We’re not doing what we do for the money, but so that society can be more diverse and more open, and for people to better understand each other and [be] more accepting,” she said.

Jennifer Jao, director of the semi-governmental Taipei Film Commission, also told a personal story of how she overcame her own early prejudices against LGBT people, before encouraging LGBT content creators in the room to reach out for her organization’s support. “We’re behind you, supporting you. Friends, you’re not alone.”

May 20, 2019

China Wants Credit For Gay Marriage in Taiwan!

                                        Image result for taiwan lgbt marriage

By Steven Jiang, CNN

Beijing (CNN)Taiwan has lashed out at China's state media for attempting to take credit for the island's historic decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
On Friday, Taiwan's legislators passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality, the first place in Asia to give LGBT couples many of the same rights as their heterosexual peers.
LGBT activists were overjoyed at the news, but some of the most unlikely praise came from the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece.
"Local lawmakers in Taiwan, China, have legalized same-sex marriage in a first for Asia," tweeted the People's Daily newspaper on Friday, along with a rainbow color-infused animated image that says "love is love" underneath.
"Wrong!" Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, shot back on his department's official Twitter account Sunday. "The bill was passed by our national parliament and will be signed by the president soon. Democratic Taiwan is a country in itself and has nothing to do with authoritarian China."
"(People's Daily) is a commie brainwasher and it sucks."
Taiwan and China are separated by fewer than 130 kilometers (81 miles) at their closest point. For seven decades, the two have maintained an uneasy truce following their split at the end of a bloody civil war in 1949.
Unification is a long-term aim for China's ruling Communist Party, which regards self-governed Taiwan -- an island of 23 million people -- as a renegade province.
The historic vote in Taiwan came almost two years after the island's Constitutional Court ruled existing laws -- which defined marriage as between a man and a woman -- to be unconstitutional.
Despite sharply divided public opinions, Taiwan's legislators passed the law only a week before a court-set deadline to enact marriage equality laws. It will go into effect on May 24.
As thousands of people in Taipei took to the streets to celebrate the outcome, Beijing's propaganda authorities appeared to see an opportunity to stake a claim on China's sovereignty over Taiwan and to highlight China's supposed LGBT-friendliness.
The news from Taiwan was among trending topics Friday on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter. It has remained a widely discussed story, generating largely positive comments, despite the Chinese government's growing censorship on all LGBT-related subjects on social media.
Global Times, a state-run tabloid known for its nationalistic rhetoric, posted a video Saturday showcasing gay social life in Beijing. The three-minute clip features interviews with local advocates as well as foreigners praising the Chinese capital's inclusive culture, complete with footage of drag queen performances.
Homosexuality is not illegal in China and the authorities in 2001 removed it from the official list of mental disorders. But activists and experts agree that prejudices and discrimination persist, as well as periodic government crackdowns.
Since he came to power in late 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has increasingly stressed the Communist Party's absolute control over all aspects of society, resulting in a push for more rigid moral codes and even less room for LGBT visibility and advocacy.
In March, nearly all LGBT content was scrubbed from "Bohemian Rhapsody," the award-winning biopic of British rock band Queen, for the Chinese audience. Deleted scenes range from two men kissing to the word "gay."
Last November, an author of same-sex erotic fiction was sent to jail for ten years. In 2016, Chinese censors banned the portrayal of "abnormal sexual behavior" in TV and online shows,including gay and lesbian relationships.
Still, some Chinese activists want to focus on the positive impact of Taiwan's legalization of same-sex marriage may have on the mainland. 
    "It offers us a lot of hope," Xiaogang Wei, a leading LGBT rights activist who heads the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, told CNN on Friday.
    "The Chinese government has pointed to cultural tradition as a reason for same-sex marriage being unsuitable in China. But the decision in Taiwan, which shares a cultural tradition with us, proves that Chinese culture can be open, diverse and progressive."

    May 17, 2019

    Love is Love in Taiwan as Same Sex Gay Marriage is Made Legal๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’–




    Taiwan's parliament has become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage following a vote on Friday.

    Parliament was given a two-year deadline and was required to pass the changes by 24 May.
    Lawmakers debated three different bills to legalize same-sex unions and the government's bill, the most progressive of the three, was passed. 
    Gay rights supporters celebrate outside Parliament after lawmakers legalised same-sex marriage billImage copyright

    Image captionGay rights activists bearing umbrellas and rainbow flags erupted in joy as the ruling was announced
    Hundreds of gay rights supporters gathered in the rain outside the parliament building in the capital, Taipei, to await the landmark ruling. 
    There were shouts of joy and some tearful embraces as the result was announced. 
    However, conservative opponents were angered by the vote. 

    What does the bill entail?

    The two other bills, submitted by conservative lawmakers, refer to partnerships as "same-sex family relationships" or "same-sex unions" rather than "marriages". 
    But the government's bill, also the only one to offer limited adoption rights, was passed by 66 to 27 votes - backed by lawmakers from the majority Democratic Progressive Party. 
    It will take effect after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen passes it into law. 
    Several same-sex activists had said ahead of the vote that this was the only version they would accept.
    Supporters of same-sex marriage gather outside the parliament building as a bill for marriage equality is debated by parliamentarians in Taipei, Taiwan, 17 May 2019Image copyrighEPA
    Image captionHundreds of gay and lesbian couples have already applied to register for legal union
    "I'm very surprised - but also very happy. It's a very important moment in my life," Jennifer Lu, chief co-ordinator of rights group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, told the BBC. 
    "However, it's still not full marriage rights; we still need to fight for co-adoption rights, and we are not sure about foreigner and Taiwanese marriage, and also gender equality education.
    "It's a very important moment, but we are going to keep on fighting. We are Taiwanese and we want this important value for our country, for our future," she added. 
    "For me the outcome today is not 100 percent perfect, but it's still pretty good for the gay community as it provides legal definition," said Elias Tseng, a gay pastor who spoke to the AFP news agency outside parliament.
    Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai posted a picture of a rainbow on Facebook accompanied by the caption "Congratulations!! Everyone deserves happiness!"
    Presentational white space

    How did we get here?

    In 2017, Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry.
    It said then that the island had two years to make necessary changes to the law.
    But this was met with a public backlash, which pressured the government into holding a series of referendums.
    The referendum results showed that a majority of voters in Taiwan rejected legalising same-sex marriage, saying that the definition of marriage was the union of a man and woman.
    A same-sex marriage supporter in Taiwan cries after Saturday's referendums in Taiwan. Photo: 24 November 2018Image copyright        

    Image captionSame-sex marriage supporters cried after hearing the result of the referendum
    As a result, Taiwan said it would not alter its existing definition of marriage in civil law, and instead would enact a special law for same-sex marriage. 

    What reaction has there been? 

    Many took to social media in celebration, seeing the result as a win for marriage equality.
    "What a tremendous victory for LGBT rights!" said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
    "Taiwan's action today should sound a clarion call, kicking off a larger movement across Asia to ensure equality for LGBT people."
    Earlier on Friday, Ms Tsai said in a tweet that the island had taken "a big step towards true equality" with the vote.
    Presentational white space
    Meanwhile, Tseng Hsien-ying, from the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, told AFP news agency the vote had "trampled on Taiwanese people's expectations that a marriage and a family is formed by a man and a woman, a husband and a wife".
    Others expressed opposition on social media. 
    "This is the death of democracy. Seven million people voted against same-sex marriage in the referendum and their votes meant nothing. 
    "Is same-sex marriage that important and urgent?", Liu Yan wrote on Facebook. 

    How does this compare to other countries in the region? 

    Taiwan has been a leader for gay rights in Asia, hosting an annual gay pride parade in Taipei attended by LGBT groups from all over the continent. 
    The law was also celebrated by many LGBT people in the region. Paul Ng, from Singapore, told the BBC he and his friends saw it as "an occasion to celebrate, even though we're not Taiwanese. It's a success for us, for all gay people."
    "For Singaporeans, this is especially important because our government likes to go on and on about preserving 'Asian' values… so this sends a very important message to other developed nations in Asia."
    Wong Ka Ying, an LGBT artist in Hong Kong, said that Taiwan's decision would help raise awareness, although she doubted it would make an impact in "more conservative" places like Hong Kong or mainland China.
    •  Vietnam decriminalized gay marriage celebrations in 2015, but stopped short of granting full legal recognition for same-sex unions.
    While same-sex marriage is still illegal in China, homosexuality was decriminalized in the country in 1997, and officially removed from its list of mental illnesses three years later. 
    Elsewhere in Asia, laws are changing to reflect more tolerant attitudes towards LGBT groups. 
    However, the approach differs in other Asian countries. 
    In April, Brunei announced strict new Islamic laws that made anal sex and adultery offences punishable by stoning to death, but it says it will not enforce the death penalty for gay sex.

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