News @ AsiaOne

Taiwan presidential hopeful blasts 'gay' question

Tsai Ing-Wen refused to answer questions over her sexual orientation. -AFP

Sat, Apr 16, 2011

TAIPEI, TAIWAN - A would-be presidential candidate in Taiwan on Saturday refused to answer questions over her sexual orientation and lashed out at a political leader who had asked her to clarify whether she was gay.

"I don't want to answer his question and I most certainly won't do it. If I answer him I will become an accomplice of sexual suppression," said Tsai Ing-Wen, chairwoman of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Tsai, who is 54 and single, had been asked about her sexuality by a former chairman of the party, Shih Ming-teh.

"There is nothing wrong with any sexual orientation or marital status and no one has the right to question others ... We need to work harder to defend the human rights of all sexual minority groups," she said in a statement.

Shih had drawn criticism from gay and women's rights groups for asking Tsai about her sexuality.

"A presidential candidate has to talk about his or her sexual orientation, which will affect his or her judgement call as a president," Shih said in footage aired by local television.

"If she really is a homosexual and she is willing to speak it aloud, Taiwan's international status will be higher," he said.

Shih, now estranged from the DPP, has stressed that he is a supporter of gay rights.

Tsai is currently vying for the DPP's nomination against former premier Su Tseng-chang to run in the 2012 presidential race.

Taiwan is becoming more open-minded towards its homosexual population, and the island's gay rights groups last year said they had hosted Asia's biggest gay pride parade, with a turnout of 30,000.

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