Homophobia must be condemned

I had a short letter published in the Taipei Times today. The letter was written in response to a group of so-called religious leaders in Taiwan campaigning against same-sex marriage. The Taipei Times have also made the issue the subject of its editorial today.

I would also like to remind people of the positive example set by Ven. Chao-hwei (釋昭慧) who hosted a wedding for a lesbian couple at Hongshi Buddhist College last year. That is a true example of religious leadership.

I was disturbed to read of some Taiwanese religious leaders speaking out against same-sex marriage (“Same-sex marriage criticized,” Sept. 19, page 2). The claims they make about same-sex marriage and homosexuality are not only ridiculous, they are a form of hate speech.

The homophobic views being promoted by these religious organizations create hatred and division within society. They cause real harm to gay people who are the target of their attacks.

Fortunately not all religious groups in Taiwan share these extreme views. However, it is important that they condemn the words of these so-called religious leaders. A clear message needs to be sent that preaching homophobia is totally unacceptable.

David Reid

Farewell to Formosa

It is more than a decade since I first came to Taiwan. During that time Taiwan has played a big part in my life, but my time there has finally come to an end and I am returning to Australia. This news may come as a surprise to some readers of this blog, but I have spent the past few weeks meeting with and saying goodbye to friends in Taipei and Taichung.

These past few years in Taiwan have been a rich learning experience. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to study at National Chengchi University (NCCU) where I completed a Master’s degree in Taiwan Studies. Dr David Blundell gave me some great guidance in the process of writing my thesis. David is currently editing a book titled Taiwan Since Martial Law. I have written a chapter for the book based on my thesis research and it should be published in the next few months. I will post the details of the book on this blog when it is available. Continue reading

John Seed in Taiwan

Paiwan artist gives carving to John Seed

I have just spent ten days accompanying John Seed on a trip around Taiwan. John is an environmentalist from Australia well known for his efforts protecting rainforests around the world and also as a philosopher of Deep Ecology. I met John at the Taoyuan Airport on the morning of 28 March. We then took the high speed train to Kaohsiung where we met Dr Lin Yih-ren who arranged John’s visit to Taiwan.

Wutai in Pingtung County

After lunch in Kaohsiung we went to visit the Qimei Community University and then went on a tour around the Meinong area. By the time night fell we were high in the mountains of Pingtung County staying at the Rukai village of Wutai. The photo at the top of this post shows Paiwan artist E-tan presenting one of his works to John. We met E-tan at the Autumn Moon Cafe (秋月e店) just above the town of Sandimen. The cafe is an amazing spot and is filled with great artworks.  Continue reading

Religion and Gender Ethics Conference

poster of the 2007 International Conference on Religious Culture and Gender Ethics

The 2007 International Conference on Religious Culture and Gender Ethics (宗教文化與性別倫理國際學術會議) was held over the weekend at Hsuan Chuang University (玄裝大學) in Xinzhu.

David and Doris, MCs at the Religious Culture and Gender Ethics Conference

I was one of the MCs at the conference. I made all the announcements in English, while Doris made the announcements in Mandarin.

Dr Mettanando at the 2007 International Conference on Religious Culture and Gender Ethics

On the first day of the conference the keynote speech was given by Dr Mettanando. The topic was “The First Council and Suppression of the Nuns”. Ven. Sujato also gave a talk about the status of nuns in early Buddhist history based on study of the Pali texts. Some more of his research on early Buddhism can be found at the Sects and Sectarianism website. It was very interesting to hear these two experts give their analysis of Buddhist history. Kate Crosby also spoke about early Buddhism looking at representations of the female in Theravada Buddhism. She noted that many Western scholars looking for Buddhist feminist writings draw on Mahayana and Vajrayana texts, yet the Theravada canon also contains feminist writings.

The first day was also notable for various feminist perspectives of Buddhism. The papers of David Schak and Elise A. DeVido showed that even though women have played a prominent and important role in Buddhism in Taiwan, there hasn’t really been a transformation in attitudes about gender roles.

Ven Sujato and Ven Chao Hwei at the 2007 International Conference on Religious Culture and Gender Ethics

Ven. Chao Hwei (昭慧法師) and Ven. Sujato from the Santi Forest Monastery in Australia.

The second day of the conference focused on other religious traditions, mainly Christianity and Islam. There were more excellent talks and lots of issues to think about. Overall there was an excellent line up of speakers from overseas and Taiwan.

Many thanks to Ven. Chao Hwei for giving me the opportunity to be involved in this conference.

* More photos at flickr. Also see the photos from Hongshi College.

INEB article in Hongshi magazine

cover of Hongzhi magazine 89An article I wrote about the INEB Conference for Hongshi magazine (弘誓雙月刊) has now been published. I will post the article below in Chinese with English translation. I also wrote several posts about the conference and study tour in September.

Also on 24-25 November there will be an International Conference on Religious Culture and Gender Ethics at Hsuan Chuang University (玄裝大學) in Xinzhu. The conference is being organised by Hongshi Cultural Foundation and Hsuan Chuang University. The conference includes speakers from Taiwan and abroad representing all the major religious traditions. I will be a volunteer at the conference and it is sure to be another great experience.

INEB大會在台灣 (INEB Conference in Taiwan)

今年五月我到曼谷拜訪Ajarn Sulak,他告訴我今年的INEB會議在台灣舉辦。我說我願意幫忙主辦。後來我回台灣跟游祥洲聯絡,開始跟他安排INEB會議。

This year in May I went to Bangkok and visited Ajarn Sulak. He informed me that the next INEB (International Network of Engaged Buddhists) Conference would be held in Taiwan. I said I was willing to help. When I came back to Taiwan I got in touch with Dr Yo and started to help with the conference planning.

At Buddhist Hongshi College 30 July 2007

七月底我跟游祥洲去佛教弘誓學院,第一次見到了昭慧法師,她拿一本弘誓雜誌給我看,我在雜誌裡面看到泰國的法師Phra Paisan就很高興,因為我很尊敬他,而對他的理論很有興趣。

At the end of July I went to Buddhist Hongshi College with Dr Yo and met Ven. Chao Hwei for the first time. She showed me a copy of the Hongshi magazine. In the magazine I saw a photo and article by the Thai monk, Phra Paisan. I was very happy because I greatly respect him and think his ideas are very interesting. Continue reading

Free Burma protest in Taipei

Free Burma protest in Taipei, 6 OCtober 2007

6 October was declared Global Day of Action in support of the democracy movement in Burma.  Despite the strong winds and rain bought by Typhoon Krosa the protest went ahead in Taipei this afternoon. More than 100 people braved the inclement weather to show their support for democracy and human rights in Burma.  

Ven. Chao Hwei interviewed by the media at the Free Burma action in Taipei

Most of the students from Buddhist Hongshi College (佛教弘誓學院) joined the protest. The photo above shows Ven. Chao Hwei being interviewed by the media at the start of the protest march. Ven. Chao Hwei was born in Burma. She wrote an article about Burma which was published in the China Times (中國時報) last Sunday (30 September).

Ven. Shing Guang holding the banner during the protest

The march set off from the Taipei City Council building on Ren'ai Road. Despite the strong winds everybody walked together and chanted slogans. 

Free Burma protest in Taipei during Typhoon Krosa, 6 Oct 2007

Due to the weather conditions the planned march was cut short. My thoughts during the march were that the difficulties with the weather were small compared with the violence faced by the people of Burma. 

*more photos at flickr

Update: The Taiwan News and Taipei Times both have reports on the march. Also some more photos.