p03-140317-kokoTaipei: Clashes broke out March 16 as pro-gay marriage activists tried to join a “Happy Family” rally organized by Christian churches in Taipei to promote the idea of a family as consisting of one father, one mother and their children.

“Let us in, we also support family values, we also want to have a happy family,” about 100 activists shouted as they were pushed back by church volunteers holding up placards bearing slogans such as: “Protect the children,” “No sex before marriage” and “One husband and one wife make a happy family,” reported taipeitimes.com.

“We also support family values and support the call to protect children, why can we not take part in the rally?” Chen Chia-chun, executive director of the Shih Ming-teh Cultural Foundation, asked the church demonstrators as others gay rights activists shouted that same-sex couples have the right to form happy families too.

“You cannot go in there [into the rally], because there are children there,” a volunteer said.

After about 20 minutes of scuffles, the organizers finally agreed to allow the activists to participate in the event, on the condition that they would sit down quietly like the other attendees.

When the gay rights activists walked into the venue, some of those attending the church rally tried to block their entrance, leading to more minor verbal and physical clashes, reports taipeitimes.com.

One of the rally attendants, Liu Chung-fang, stared at the gay rights activists as they entered the venue, calling them “shameless,” but the demonstrators did not react.

When one of the same-sex marriage advocates tried to explain to the church rally participants the view that everyone should enjoy the same right to marriage, many parents covered their children’s ears, turned their kids’ heads away, or told the activist to stop.

“I think it’s time for our generation to stand up and defend the rights of same-sex couples,” Chang Wen-wei, a sophomore at Shih Chien University and a member of the United Students for Same-Sex Marriage, said when asked why he was campaigning with the other activists.

“There should not be any restrictions on family based on gender orientation and we should fight for the happiness of the next generations,” Chang added.

Two Taiwanese Tibetan Buddhist nuns also attended to show their support for same-sex marriage.

“Marriage is not an option for us Buddhist clergy, however, we would like to say that everyone should be treated with respect and everyone’s choices should be respected,” said Lobsang Nelug, one of the nuns.

Although the organizer of the church rally said the focus of the event was promoting family values, not opposing same-sex marriage, many of the rally’s official signs bore messages advocating that a happy family is one with a father-mother parental unit.

However, a homemade sign brandished by one church supporter praising anti-gay laws in Uganda defining homosexuality as a crime punishable by life in prison and urging the government to “be courageous” and follow Kampala’s example.

In Taiwan same-sex sexual activity is legal, although the Taiwanese face a lot of the same roadblocks felt elsewhere in Asia. Legislation aimed to legalize same-sex marriage was proposed in 2003, however, the bill received opposition and was not voted on.

Source: taipeitimes.com