The Complicated Road to Marriage Equality in Taiwan: A Webinar Briefing for Funders

June 28, 9am EDT, 3pm CEST, 9pm CST 

The Taiwanese LGBT movement has made enormous strides towards equality, most notably with the 2017 Supreme Court decision requiring the legislature to create a mechanism for equal marriage by May 2019. Unfortunately, the religious opposition (with support from U.S. anti-LGBT crusaders such as Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage) has been swiftly organizing, causing not only a delay by the leadership in the legislature required to enact such a law, but also proposing three national referenda on LGBT issues, including ensuring that the word “marriage” can only refer to a man and woman, prohibiting LGBT-focused curriculum in the schools; and the creation of a separate set of laws for LGBT couples altogether.Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan is in the process of devising their strategy for defeating the three referenda in the November election, while continuing to push on the legislature for a bill to implement the Court decision in the strongest possible way?

Please join this briefing to learn more about the campaign and public communications strategy to defeat these public referenda, and the resources needed.

Co-sponsored by Equality Without Borders, Open Society Foundations and Global Philanthropy Project

Welcome Remarks:

Joy Chia, Program Officer, East Asia Region Program, Open Society Foundations

[Bio will be added soon]

Michael Heflin, Director for Equality, Human Rights Initiative, Open Society Foundations

Michael Heflin is the Director of Equality at the Open Society Human Rights Initiative. In his role Michael oversees Open Society’s grant making to advance equality in several key areas including LGBTI rights and the rights of persons with disabilities. Michael came to Open Society in 2009 to launch a global initiative on LGBTI rights focused on supporting emerging LGBTI rights groups in the global East and South. Prior to joining Open Society, Michael was managing director of the Campaigns Unit for Amnesty International USA. He also served as the founding director of Amnesty’s LGBT rights program. In addition, Michael worked at Amnesty’s International Secretariat in London where he directed the International Mobilization Program. Michael also was deputy director of Amnesty’s Midwest Region Office.  Michael holds a law degree with a focus on human rights from the University of Cincinnati where he served as fellow at the Urban Morgan Human Rights Institute and as editor of the Human Rights Quarterly.



Jennifer Lu, Director of Tongzhi Hotline and Coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan

Jennifer serves as coordinator of the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan. She also works with the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association for LGBTQ rights. The hotline works on LGBTQ youth, gender education, lesbian sexual health, LGBTQ domestic violence and LGBTQ-inclusive policy making issues. In 2016, when Jennifer ran for parliament, she raised the visibility of LGBTQ issues and pushed to include equal rights issues on the national political agenda. She also helps organize the annual Taipei Pride Parade, the largest in Asia, and was a 2016 Global Innovator in HRC’s Global Innovative Advocacy Summit.

Thalia Zepatos, Communications Strategist with Freedom to Marry Global

Thalia Zepatos helped lead the U.S. marriage movement to victory through leadership  roles spanning more than a decade. As Freedom to Marry’s Director of Research and Messaging, she was known as the “message guru” who led the movement’s  messaging shift, resulting in exponential growth in public support that paved the way for  the movement’s first-ever victories at the ballot, and later a historic Supreme Court victory. With over 25 years of expertise in electoral politics, Thalia has elected women to statewide political office, defeated multiple anti-gay and anti-choice ballot measures, and was a strategic adviser to the victorious YES Equality national referendum  campaign in Ireland in 2015 and the Yes Equality postal ballot campaign in Australia in  2017. She is currently working with LGBT advocates on messaging and strategy in a half-dozen countries worldwide in collaboration with Equality Without Borders and Open Society Foundations. She is the author of Women for a Change: A Grassroots Guide to Activism and Politics.


Q&A Moderation:

Julie Dorf has been a leader in the global LGBT rights movement for over 25 years, bridging activism and philanthropy throughout that period. Julie founded and directed the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC, now OutRight) from 1990 to 2000. Julie co-founded and works for the Council for Global Equality, a coalition of 30 US-based organizations working together for an inclusive U.S. foreign policy. Julie is also the lead content advisor for the Equality Without Borders individual donor initiative. She was Director of Philanthropic Services for Horizons Foundation, and has consulted for Open Society Institute, Global Fund for Women, Arcus Foundation, and the Astraea Foundation for Justice.

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