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Anti-LGBTI campaigners spend $3.2 million on misinformation before Taiwan vote

Anti-LGBTI campaigners spend $3.2 million on misinformation before Taiwan vote

An advertisement in Taiwan by anti-LGBTI rights campaign 3 Yes (Photo: 3 Yes)

Anti-LGBTI campaigners have spent more than US$3 million on a campaign against same-sex marriage and LGBTI education.

Taiwan on Saturday (24 November) will hold referendums on whether to change the country’s Civil Code to recognize same-sex marriage.

Residents will also vote on whether to dismantle the country’s LGBTI-positive curriculum introduced in 2004.

Conservative campaigners, fueled by traditional Chinese family values and a small but powerful Christian minority, have been upping their anti-LGBTI rhetoric in the last days before the election.

Newspaper ads, billboards, flyers, fake news articles, and e-flyers peddling anti-LGBTI myths have bombarded Taiwan.

They claim same-sex marriage will lead to a collapse in the all-important family unit. Advertisements warn of a shrinking population in Taiwan.

They also claim Taiwan will become a haven for people with HIV looking to take advantage of the country’s public health system.

In a particularly sinister move, the 3 Yes group is running anti-LGBTI ads ahead of children’s videos on YouTube.

They claim teaching about LGBTI issues will confuse children about their gender identity.

Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, meanwhile, crowdfunded just over US$300,000. There have been reports of young volunteers being attacked while canvassing for votes.


LGBTI rights on the ballot

Taiwan’s bid to become the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex unions has become frustratingly long and winding.

Politicians first introduced equal marriage legislation into the parliament a decade ago. Pro-LGBTI President Tsai Ing-Wen campaigned in 2016 elections, they promised to equalize marriage.

Also on the ballot is a question on teaching about LGBTI issues in schools. Taiwan’s 2014 Gender Equity Education Act introduced lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity into the curriculum.