Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cyber attacks enter fray in Taiwan same-sex marriage battle

Once again, people who purport to stand for ‘love’ and ‘morality’ are resorting to undemocratic tactics to silence their opponents

Rather than encourage debate about the pros and cons of legalizing same-sex marriage, recent efforts in Taiwan to amend Article 972 of the Civil Code, which would open the door for such unions, have led one side — its opponents — to adopt scorched-earth policies that leave little doubt as to the possibility of rational discussions on the subject.

Spearheaded by what appears to be the fundamentalist religious Christian right, opponents of same-sex marriage showed their true colors on November 30 with a mass rally in Taipei, during which supporters of same-sex unions were blocked, hounded, pursued, surrounded and encircled by members of the Happiness of the Next Generation Alliance. Despite its claims of being a civic organization, it was evident to anyone who attended the rally that the whole affair was orchestrated and financed by a constellation of Christian organizations, possibly, as I highlighted in a previous article, with the assistance of wealthy individuals and well-placed government officials of the conservative slant.

What was also made clear during the rally was that members of the Alliance weren’t there to engage in discussion. Those who didn’t “fit,” or anyone who overtly supported same-sex marriage, were either refused access to the venue, or were met by creepy stares and silence, something that I witnessed on multiple occasions.

Following the Nov. 30 event, the Alliance and Christian Churches launched a propaganda campaign to downplay the incidents and discredit their critics, while continuing to rely on mystical formulations and downright lies to back their claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would harm families, undermine social stability, bring disease, and encourage a multiplicity of sexual deviancies.

As if this weren’t enough, a series of cyber attack have been launched against sites where people can sign an online petition calling on the government to pass the amendments to Article 972. We have every reason to believe that the Alliance — which prior to Nov. 30 had launched its own petition (at this writing, 625,115 people have signed it, or 375,000 short of its goal of 1 million) — was behind those acts of electronic warfare.

According to sources who are in charge of the petitions, the attacks started on Dec. 10 with action that paralyzed the petition system on the Academics in Support of Marriage Equality (學界支持婚姻平權) Web site. After intervention by the organizers, the site resumed operations in the evening. The site was the object of renewed attacks the next day, once again forcing suspension of the petition.

Later on Dec, 11, the Students Behind Gay Marriage (力挺同性婚姻學生) and the Teachers’ Support for Marriage Equality (基層教師支持婚姻平權) Web sites were also attacked, paralyzing the petition systems. The petitions on all three sites were then temporarily closed from December 11 and were reactivated on Dec. 13. Organizers of the petition have since implemented anti-hacking security measures and are using a countersigning mechanism to authenticate the backed up signatures.   

Much as during the shameful incidents that I and other observers documented on Nov. 30, the cyber attacks are another indication that the largely Christian groups that are spearheading the campaign against legalizing same-sex unions are not interested in rational debate. In fact, they will do everything they can to deny their opponents the voice that is guaranteed them in a democratic society, all of this in the name of “love” and “morality.” (Photo by the author) 

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