Taiwan accuses China over flag ban in Paris Gay Games

Members of the Taiwan Gay Sports and Development Movement Association spoke at a press conference in the Legislative Yuan that, below its “logical conclusion,” China had been secretly complaining to the French government. If not, “this would not have happened,” said the association’s president Yang Chi-chun.

By Joon Kim

TAIPEI-“Taiwan, come out,” is the unofficial motto of a Taiwanese LGBT delegation.

But it appears that Team Taiwan should “go in.”

Several Taiwanese gay rights activists publicly stated Monday that China has been, and is, seeking to ban the presence of Taiwan’s national flag on athletic grounds.

Members of the Taiwan Gay Sports and Development Movement Association spoke at a press conference in the Legislative Yuan that, below its “logical conclusion,” China had been secretly complaining to the French government. If not, “this would not have happened,” said the association’s president Yang Chi-chun, to AFP.

Mr. Yang then fervently waved a Taiwanese flag, as if to bolden the republic’s independence stance against China.

Last week, the association was notified by the Federation of Gay Games over concerns of its flag display at the tenth Gay Games, which will be held in early August. The Board of Directors of Paris 2018 has yet to comment.

A committee license was proposed to Taipei City for the 2021 World Out Games, a sovereign gay and lesbian sports festival that had split apart from the Gay Games after a financial dispute in 2006, but recent efforts have shown unlikely.

The federation and the association have already been made further negotiations, to relabel Taiwan as “Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)” on its official website, in contrast to the former, which was written in its registration form. The former decision was backlisted due to external pressure, although it was already made beforehand.

“We hope the FGG can resist pressure,” added Mr. Yang, in hopes of dispelling Chinese interference before and during the games.

However, the association needs to tackle a more urgent problem at hand: financial aid. The Taiwan Gay Sports and Development Movement Association had been just established in May, said Mr. Chi, to allow Taiwan to participate in the Gay Games. It had since run a financial campaign to reach its goal of 3 million TWD, but only raised a little less than a third of it as of late July.

The Taiwanese LGBTQ community needs to be more recognized, said Yu Kun-I, a private yoga instructor and a swimmer. “The Games welcome athletes who support the value of divert and equality to participate regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, but most of the athletes who joined are those who have come out of the closet,” said Mr. Yu. “This shows that heterosexual athletes who support the cause also face great stress and stigmatization.”

This year’s Gay Games will take place at Paris, France, from August 4, to August 12, 2018. A 28-member delegation led by Taiwanese civil rights activist and campaign advisor Chi Chia-wei will depart Taipei on August 2, 2018. They will compete in swimming, running, table tennis, tennis, and inline speedskating.

Paris 2018 may be “an unprecedented rare opportunity” for Taiwan to represent itself, said Mr. Chi. However, the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong may render “impossible” for Taiwan to arrange the usage of its national flag and its Taiwanese representation.

“We will fight till the last moment to use our national flag at the Gay Games, he said.