Presidential Cultural Award winner urges passing of gay marriage bill

2017/11/14 22:59:07 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Chi Chia-wei (祁家威, right)

Chi Chia-wei (祁家威, right)

Taipei, Nov. 14 (CNA) Gay rights pioneer Chi Chia-wei (祁家威), one of the recipients of the Presidential Cultural Awards this year, on Tuesday received a round of applause at a Taipei ceremony to honor the recipients, when he urged the government and lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage in Taiwan.

"In the pursuit of marriage equality, we want an amendment to the Civil Code. We do not want a special law," said Chi, who has pushed for the legalization of same-sex marriage for 30 years, during his speech at the Taipei Zhongshan Hall.

"A special law is the product of the last century and it is outdated," said Chi, who won the award in the category of social reform.

The 59-year-old long-time activist said, only when same-sex marriage is legalized can there be talk of social unity.

"If we talk about social unity before marriage equality is achieved, it is like the white owner of a farm telling his black slave before the American Civil War that 'we should unite and do our best to be productive so that we can build a thriving household,'" Chi said. "That is wrong."

"That unity is fake," said Chi, who sported a rainbow-colored hairband and necktie and received a round of applause from the audience when he finished his speech.

Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容, no relation), chief executive officer of The Garden of Hope Foundation and convener of the panel of judges, said all of the judges were moved by Chi's unrelenting efforts to increase the visibility of the gay community and pursue marriage equality.

"We thank Chi Chia-wei for taking the first step, the most difficult step," she said.

Born in 1958 in Taipei, Chi Chia-wei began promoting HIV awareness and fighting for same-sex marriage in the 1980s.

In 2000 and 2015, he filed requests for constitutional interpretations on same-sex marriage. His efforts finally came to fruition in May this year when the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage and asked the authorities to amend or enact relevant laws to legalize same-sex marriage within two years.

Chi was among the five recipients of the 9th Presidential Cultural Awards, organized by the General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC) since 2001, to honor individuals and groups that contribute to Taiwanese society. The biennial awards are given in five categories: cultural endeavor, humanitarian contributions, youth creativity, indigenous hope and social reform.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who heads the GACC, presented the awards to the recipients at a separate ceremony held at the Presidential Office earlier Tuesday.

In the cultural endeavor category, the winner was Huang Yung-sung (黃永松), a publisher dedicated to preserving local folk culture. His publication Han Sheng, a bimonthly magazine, was selected "Best of Asia" by Time magazine in 2006.

Doctor Samuel Noordhoff (羅慧夫) received the award in the humanitarian category for his promotion of medical care in rural Taiwan.

Noordhoff served as president of Mackay Memorial Hospital during the 1960s and 1970s and later as president of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. He helped establish Taiwan's first intensive care unit, first burn center, first suicide prevention center and first craniofacial treatment center.

In 1999, he was awarded the Order of Brilliant Star with Violet Grand Cordon by then Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

Noordhoff, who could not make it to the ceremony for health reasons, dedicated his award to all Taiwanese medical personnel and encouraged everyone to help others.

"Everyone can be a humanitarian as long as they extend a helping hand to those in need," said Dr. Chen Yu-ray (陳昱瑞), who received the award on behalf of Noordhoff and read the latter's speech on stage.

Suming Rupi (舒米恩‧魯碧), a Taiwanese indigenous singer-songwriter and actor, won the youth creativity award for his efforts to produce innovative music and revitalize indigenous culture.

In 2011, he won the Golden Melody Award for Best Album in an Aboriginal Language for the album "Suming" and in 2016 he received the Golden Melody Award for Best Song of the Year with "Aka pisawad."

The group winner in the indigenous hope category went to Sinyi Realty's "One Family in Community" project, which began in 2004. Under the project, Sinyi Realty allocates NT$100 million (US$3.31 million) every five years to support community development.

Since 2004, the real estate agency has funded 1,960 community development proposals, ranging from cultural preservation and social care to ecological conservation and disaster reconstruction.

Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), who attended the event at Zhongshan Hall, thanked the five recipients for their long standing dedication and for setting an example other Taiwanese can follow and learn from.

Chen said he hopes the award will help to promote the values of the recipients, inspire more selfless devotion and unique creativity and facilitate "a richer, deeper and more diverse Taiwanese culture and values."

(By Christie Chen)

Share on Facebook  Share on twitter  Share by email  Share on Google+