One Step Forward, One Step Back (Response)

“After the huge step forward...”

After a huge step forward that was the governments approval of same sex marriage in Taiwan just fresh in our minds, one that dominated mainstream media in both English & Mandarin in Taiwan, and echoed through the world - Taiwan, the first country to legalize same sex marriages. No doubt many foreigners as well as Taiwanese were proud at that moment of such an achievement, and such a step forward for Taiwan not only internally but internationally with the world now aware of just how progressive is on LGBT issues. 
Taiwanese Legislator, CHEN YIJIE
In comes Chen Yijie, a Taiwanese Legislator with the FPP party. It was with shock that I initially read news about Chen moving towards amending law to make it not just necessity but requirement for individuals in Taiwan whom are HIV positive  to disclose their status to Taiwanese Emergency Medical Technician’s prior to receiving emergency treatment. To be honest I’m not even sure as to how this would work as normally when someone calls for emergency assistance, it may not even actually be that person. It could be a friend or a relative calling because that person is incapable of doing so. Specifically she has said that the amendment also ensures that HIV positive individuals who disclose their status cannot be refused emergency medical treatment after disclosure.

It’s when I see news coming out of someone in a position of authority that is supposed to strive for equality of all citizens and residents regardless of sexual orientation, gender, age, or medical conditions then abuse this power to make unknowledgeable and discriminatory amendments to law that will , in turn , serve to only sustain current HIV infections and in turn harm many Taiwanese as well as others worldwide, but to almost boast about it as if it’s some kind of accomplishment. 

It’s astonishing to me really that someone would be unable to see the long term effects of amendments made to law that serve to throw a minority group under the bus, and to sustain the stigma associated with HIV & AIDS. It also is unfortunate that for a large part, most of the population seems to not be able to grasp the fact that HIV is not AIDS. Even as far as the original English news article.
a bill intended to make revelation of HIV-infected people’s AIDS condition

That being said I hesitate to take Taiwan news or many Taiwanese news sources with a grain of salt as they are quick to jump to the gun and many times find nothing wrong with merely translating another news source and claiming it for their own, or in fact plagiarizing and it will turn out the original news source was not completely factual with of course results in those reading the English publication misinformed as to the real circumstances. That’s another post and another day.

This is of course an opinion article, and reflects my personal stance on the situation and not actual fact and you are of course free to disagree with any opinions I hold and form your own. My initial thoughts? Are you crazy? How can someone who is requiring Emergency medical treatment be then held to, by law, a mandatory disclosure of their HIV status. What shall happen to them if they fail to disclose their status? Not because of intentional disclosure but because of any situation that would arise? Is someone who’s passed out, fainted or incapacitated in some other way then expected to issue a disclosure to an EMT?

As far as I’m knowledgeable of, both in Canada and Taiwan and many other countries the only time one would be required to disclose their status is with sexual partners, not with EMT, and especially not in a emergency situation. It’s ludacris. It’s backwards. Not only does this put an already vulnerable minority at risk, but it also creates even more stigma and fear, that will in turn continue to see Taiwan’s HIV infections rise in the coming years.  I’ll be blunt, decisions like this make me doubt ones intelligence. Using resulting fear which stems from lack of education as an excuse to pass discriminatory law is not just wrong, it’s disgusting.

I could go into a lengthy description of how actions like Legislator Chen’s will in turn continute to stigma and the rise of HIV infections in Taiwan, but honestly I find the rebuttal to those who fail to understand due to lack of understanding of HIV/AIDS and obvious bias against the LGBT community redundant as you can not speak to those who refuse to listen.
Most can put two and two together and realize how creating laws that promote fear of a disease would in turn contribute to the stigma surrounding it. 

On the forefront of those increasing stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is Taiwan Family (Taiwan Family)  an Taiwanese organization with fortunately, not that many members, only having curated 318 people on their YouTube channel in the last 5 years. Their Ill mannered commentary and uneducated opinions, nevertheless, continue to be a voice of opposition to LGBT issues in Taiwan. They frequently employee radical beliefs with little or no factual evidence to try and sway public opinion on LGBT matters, so of course a recent sustain in HIV infections this year is fuel to their radicalized flame as they spoute hate and nonsense contributing these numbers to government & of course, the LGBT population of Taiwan. 

In a recent argument on their Facebook group I had been told to mind my own business and that this was an “internal” matter. Let me tell you one thing, just in case it’s not obvious. HIV is no ones internal matter. Taiwan is not a prison cell prohibiting Taiwanese citizens from traveling to others countries, or disallowing foreign visitors into the country for vacations or immigration. You have a mix of nationals both in Taiwan and worldwide. People. Have. Sex. Suggesting that this is an internal Taiwanese issue instead of one that globally we all have to tackle is absurd, it’s uneducated and it’s definitely not a situation. However my nationality plays into my eligibility to comment on issues that pertain to the country and the world I live in, is beyond me.

It’s organizations and public behavior like this that have caused the infection statistics to be what they are. If organizations similar to TF are going to make an effort and have a say about HIV in Taiwan, if Legislator Chen is going to make efforts to protect members of society, then they should strive towards decreasing those numbers, as somehow they are unaware that actions like these in turn contribute to HIV infections being what they are. Not point fingers at government, or at the LGBT population.

One of the main problems facing Taiwan in decreasing its infection rates is in my opinion lack of education about HIV/AIDS, a media that picks up on story’s about the disease whether it’s true or false and slams it all over headlines like a cheap tabloid magazine propagating fear and stigma, and the then resulting low percentage of individuals who actually test for HIV regularly. If we continue to make HIV something that is associated with just the LGBT population, something that is disgusting or dirty, something to be ashamed of and smeared all over “Professional” news outlets, then Taiwan will never decrease these numbers. Furthermore, those statistics are a direct result of and therefore representation of a sad public opinion in Taiwan of HIV/AIDS. I hope in the future Taiwan can promote better education for its citizens just exactly what HIV/AIDS is so they can make informed opinions.

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Canadian born , Asia grown. Kesen is a personal blog with a focus on Asia Pacific, SEO, Wordpress & self-composed music. KPU Asian Studies.