Dear President Tsai, Do You See Us? | 蔡英文妳看到了嗎？！
(Photo Credit: Hannah Fazio)
On October 29, 2016, just 10 days before the official Taiwan LGBT Pride celebration, a retired professor from The Department of Foreign Languages at National Taiwan University (NTU), Jacques Picoux (畢安生) plunged 10 stories from his Taipei residence and passed away. A native of France, professor Picoux was a beloved lecturer who devoted most of his life to educating and helping his students at NTU. This shocking news evoked major concern and prompted intense discussion on social media, due to the fact that Picoux shared a domestic life with his same-sex partner of over 35 years. But, perhaps the more fundamental question is, why a distinguished scholar would choose to end his life in such a brutal way.
A few years ago, before his long-term partner passed away, professor Picoux was distraught because he could not legally claim ownership of the property they both shared, nor could he participate in crucial medical decisions for his partner due to the restrictions of the current law.
Looking back on last October, right before the last Taiwan LGBT Pride celebration, President Tsai’s election committee released “Rainbow Souvenirs” in the form of transportation passes as a stance of solidarity with the LGBT community. The official statement included these beautiful promises: “A transportation pass is what we use every day. This rainbow design, is not only a symbol of our unique differences, but also a reminder that we, the people of Taiwan, are in this journey together and that each individual should enjoy the fundamental rights of equality. Within the realm of love, there are no second class citizens.”
We still remember the clear message posted on then-candidate Tsai’s facebook page: “I, Tsai-Ing-Wen, support equal rights and marriage equality”. Fast forward to today, it’s ironic that the “Rainbow Souvenir” is just that ~ a souvenir. All of these empty promises are juxtaposed with the news of discriminatory same sex couple laws proposed by the Ministry of Justice, the suppression of LGBT education by the DPP party in Changhua County and the discussion of marriage equality which has long been treated as an afterthought.
Marriage equality is but one of the many issues a person who identifies as LGBT faces in life. From education, to workplace equality, to health care policy, to elder care; these are areas where LGBT individuals are still discriminated by law, and treated as second class citizens.
At the end of the day, “love” in itself is not enough to sustain a healthy living environment for LGBT individuals. It is only when the government puts forth policies which combat discrimination will there ever be a possibility that your people can truly enjoy equal rights.
This statement is not just a memorandum for professor Picoux, but more importantly a plea to President Tsai to honor what was promised during the presidential campaign. Equal rights is a basic human necessity, we demand no more, no less.
Referring back to your promise of “we are in this journey together”, the heartbreaking story of Professor Picoux is unfortunately not a unique one. How many more human lives do we have to lose as a result of the government’s gross negligence? How many more fellow passengers will you allow to end their journey prematurely?
President Tsai and your DPP-led majority in the Legislative Yuan, are you even aware of this?