Hundreds of men have been flocking the streets of Taiwan wearing skirts as part of events organized to challenge gender stereotypes and raise awareness of the long-awaited marriage bill in parliament.
Legislators will be holding discussions on Friday before the set date of 24th May, when the bill will either be passed or rejected by the members of parliament. If it goes through, Taiwan will be the first nation in East Asia to allow same-sex unions.
Social media has mainly been a valuable tool for activists, with the Facebook group “put on your miniskirt” gaining a lot of public interest. Men of all ages have used the platform to share photos of the varied outfits worn during the weekend.
According to the local media, similar events have been organized at the National Taiwan University and even at a high school in New Taipei. Some male students could be spotted walking around in their uniform shirts and matching skirts.
Students at the New Taipei Municipal Banqiao Senior High School posted a video on Facebook showing their support. Commenting on their behalf, headteacher Lai Chunjin said, “We want to break gender stereotypes and respect differences in temperament. So join our skirt-wearing team.”
One male teacher who wore a skirt to school said, “while I was playing football, so many students said, what you’re wearing is very strange.”
But he had a fitting response for them, “If I like wearing these clothes, then what’s stopping me? We can all break gender stereotypes and respect differences.”
Another local news channel in Taiwan pointed out that “the level of anxiety is high” among LGBT communities in Taiwan ahead of the marriage bill.
There are fears that the newly drafted Executive Yuan’s draft bill could be compromised during parliamentary negotiations and might only barely meet minimum standards regarding rights and the level of protection it affords. As such, same-sex couples might not be accorded equal rights to non-biological adoptions compared to their counterparts.
The revolutionary bill on same-sex marriages has attracted international attention in Taiwan, especially after voters opposed the union in a series of referendums held in November 2018. The constitutional court further complicated the issue that previously ruled that it was illegal to ban them.
More than two-thirds of the voters chose to be conservative and wanted to retain the current definition of marriage as between a man and a woman under civil law.
President Tsai Ing-Wen, who promised marriage equality during her election campaign, has now found the same-sex marriage issue a challenge in his tenure. While attending another school function, she pointed out, “Men in Scotland wear skirts, so why can’t men in Taiwan?”
Social media users in the neighboring nation of China have also come out to support the movement.
Beijing Gay Center and “I am Born” commented that more people ought to put aside hostility and embrace difference.