Huang Jie, the first lesbian elected to Taiwan’s parliament, wants to lead the way

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Huang Jie first lesbian elected to Taiwan’s parliament

A Landmark Victory

At 31, Huang Jie has marked a historic milestone as the first openly lesbian member elected to Taiwan’s parliament, expressing her astonishment and hope to inspire the LGBT+ community. In an interview, she shared her elation over her “incredible” election victory despite facing numerous challenges, aiming to bolster confidence within the LGBT+ populace.

Taiwan: A Progressive Beacon in Asia

Taiwan stands out as one of Asia’s most progressive societies, especially recognized as a stronghold for LGBT+ rights. This recognition comes after its pioneering step in 2019 to legalize same-sex marriage, the first in the region to do so.

Trailblazing Amidst Challenges

I hope my election will empower many, as it shows I’ve succeeded in stepping up to the front lines,” Huang Jie remarked, following her swearing-in ceremony last Thursday. Her journey to the autonomous island’s legislature, coveted by China, was fraught with adversity, facing discriminatory attacks due to her LGBT+ identity and battling stereotypes about her youth.

An Unforeseen Triumph

Huang Jie’s election on January 13 to represent Kaohsiung city in the south came as a surprise against more established opponents. “I find it incredible. Politics is full of surprises and there are many unexpected changes,” she stated during a phone interview. Beginning her political career in 2018 as a council member on the New Power Party’s modest list, she was reelected as an independent municipal councilor in 2022 before joining the ruling Democratic Progressive Party last August. Her candidacy came as a replacement for a resigned lawmaker following a scandal.

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Overcoming the Odds

With only 70 days to campaign post-nomination, Huang faced numerous obstacles. “I was not running in my own district and questions were raised about my youth and merely five years of political career,” she shared. The presence of religious and anti-LGBT groups in her district led some to believe her chances of winning were slim.

Campaign Strategy and Societal Progress

During her campaign in Kaohsiung, Huang chose not to focus on her sexual orientation, understanding the impact of open LGBT+ representatives at the municipal level. Despite initial skepticism and age-related mistrust from voters, she views her parliamentary victory as a positive outcome, noting “some progress in Taiwanese society.”

Facing Adversity Head-On

In 2021, Huang Jie’s sexual orientation subjected her to relentless attacks, but she survived a motion to oust her from the municipal council. She recalls, “Groups seeking my removal distributed flyers to slander and mock me. Online comments were even harsher, equating being gay to mental illness.”

The Fight for Equality Continues

As one of the 47 women constituting nearly 42% of the 113 parliamentary seats, Huang sees a continuous struggle for gender parity in politics. Highlighting the challenges women face in a male-dominated field, she is determined to champion gender equality, human rights, generational justice, and economic equality for the youth. Furthermore, Huang believes in advancing LGBT+ rights beyond same-sex marriage legalization, including revising assisted reproduction laws to encompass single women and same-sex families.

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