On December 20, 1998, a squad of policemen reportedly raided AG Club, a gymnasium and sauna well-known for its gay clientele in downtown Taipei. According to local lesbian and gay activists, the policemen forcibly entered around midnight and arrested two men found caressing one another in a small, private compartment, charging them with "obscenity in public." A few minutes later, under the guise of "collecting evidence," these policemen allegedly counted unwrapped condom packages in the vicinity and ordered the two men to demonstrate how gay sex is performed--proceeding to take photographs of them. A number of local lesbian and gay activists arrived at the scene to ensure fair treatment of the arrested men, protesting this intrusion of privacy and advocating for their right to a lawyer, yet the police insisted on detaining the two men. In addition, the policemen reportedly insisted that the AG Club manager sign a fabricated record of the alleged crime; when he refused, stating it was factually untrue, they arrested the manager, too. These lesbian and gay activists sought to accompany the the arrested men--one of whom could not understand the policemen's Mandarin and Taiwanese dialects--to the police station, yet they were forced to leave by the police.
Lesbian and gay activists in Taipei place this incident within a sordid history of recent police brutality against gay men. They cite a number of similar raids over the last few months at the same club, with some resulting in substantial destruction of property. Moreover, last September, policemen from the same station, armed with machine guns, allegedly harassed some twenty men found chatting or standing in a park known as a popular cruising venue. Treating this as evidence of a crime, the policemen took their photographs and recorded their personal data, meanwhile taunting and intimidating them.
Lesbian and gay activists request support and solidarity in the form of carefully worded letters of concern--including official letters (on letterhead) from organizations--to be sent to Mr. Ma Ying-Jiu, the newly elected Mayor of Taipei whose post will begin in January 1999. Mr. Ma distinguished himself as one of the more gay-friendly candidates during the election, holding himself to a commitment to protect basic human rights from violation and to build up the city of Taipei as an international metropolis free from repression. They request that these letters avoid harsh language (as it may prove counterproductive) and include the following:
- your knowledge of this specific police raid incident;
- your concern for human rights and the dignity of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the city of Taipei
- your respectful insistence on the existence of safe queer spaces in Taipei, free from harassment and other forms of oppression, especially by police, with an emphasis that this provision is essential to any international metropolis.
Please send letters to:
- Mayor Ma Ying-Jiu
- Mayor's Office
Taipei City Government
Post Code 110
Since this documents can be extremely supportive to local activists in Taipei, please send copies of letters to:
- Hotline for Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay People in Taipei
- P.O. Box 21-143
Published on February 1, 1999 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization