Post submitted by Jay Gilliam, Senior Global Programs Officer
HRC Global Innovator Jennifer Lu, who participated in the inaugural Global Innovative Advocacy Summit in 2016, recently celebrated the imminent arrival of marriage equality in Taiwan, a milestone that she played a leading role in achieving.
On a recent visit to Washington, D.C., HRC sat down with Lu to discuss marriage equality in Taiwan and her continued work with the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association to raise LGBTQ visibility.
Taiwan is on its way to marriage equality. Where does it stand now?
While the Constitutional Court affirmed marriage equality in May, we still need to lobby parliament to pass marriage equality bills within two years of the court’s ruling. We are working with parliament on bills that update the civil code to include full marriage equality, adoption rights and parent-child care legal rights.
What was your role in the marriage equality campaign?
I am the coordinator of the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, which helped coalition partners agree to a common strategy. With five LGBTQ organizations, there were numerous approaches on how Taiwan could get to marriage equality. I was also the liaison between the group and the president's office.
What lessons can other countries learn from Taiwan?
By supporting equality under the law, Taiwan has shown that human rights are not just Western values but universal values. Taiwan’s strong civil society--a coalition that includes youth and straight allies standing with LGBTQ people--has also made clear that we want a more equal and democratic society and that we can push the government forward to attain that.
What inspired you to become an LGBTQ advocate?
As a young lesbian university student majoring in social work, I was looking for a place where I could learn and belong. So, I started volunteering at the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association when I was 18 years old. The hotline works on LGBTQ youth, gender education, lesbian sexual health, LGBTQ domestic violence and LGBTQ-inclusive policy issues. It gave me the chance to learn professional skills, to practice self-reflection and to consider my sexual orientation at the same time. That is when I realized that I was passionate about LGBTQ rights.
You participated in HRC's inaugural 2016 Global Innovative Advocacy Summit. What lessons did you take home from that experience?
Being part of the Global Summit helped me learn about HRC’s advocacy on marriage equality and take what worked in the U.S. back to Taiwan. I also learned about the importance of telling LGBTQ love stories. Taiwan’s LGBTQ community has always believed in the power of love, and we spread that message during the campaign. That helped us win this last battle.
HRC Global is proud to amplify the work of creative and courageous leaders like Jennifer Lu. HRC Global advocates for LGBTQ equality around the world through fellowships, partnerships and thought leadership. Read more about our work here.