Taiwanese men in skirts challenge gender stereotypes

Male student and teacher wearing blue skirts Image copyright Board of students
Image caption Students and teachers alike wore school uniform skirts

Men of all ages have been gathering on the streets of Taiwan wearing skirts, as part of events organised to challenge gender stereotypes and raise awareness of Taiwan's long-awaited marriage bill.

Discussions will take place in parliament on Friday, and legislation for same-sex marriage will be either passed or rejected on 24 May. If it does go through, it will make Taiwan the first place in Asia to allow such unions.

A Facebook group encouraging people to "put on your miniskirt" garnered lots of interest and became a popular place to share photos of the varied outfits worn at the weekend.

Other organised events have been taking place at the National Taiwan University and even at a high school in New Taipei, where some male students walked around the school grounds in their uniform shirts with co-ordinating skirts, according to Taiwan News.

Students at New Taipei Municipal Banqiao Senior High School posted their support on Facebook, including the head teacher, Lai Chunjin, who said: "We want to break gender stereotypes and respect differences in temperament. So join our skirt-wearing team."

One male teacher who wore a skirt to school said: "While I was playing football, so many students said, 'what you're wearing is very strange'."

But he responded: "If I like wearing these types of clothes, then what's stopping me? We can all break gender stereotypes and respect differences."

Online news channel Focus Taiwan has pointed out that "the level of anxiety is high" among LGBT communities in Taiwan ahead of the bill.

It says the provisions stipulated in the Executive Yuan's draft bill "could be compromised during the negotiations" and might "only barely meet minimum standards in terms of the rights and level of protection it affords" - such as by not recognising non-biological adoptions.

Since voters opposed marriage equality in a series of referendums last November, same-sex marriage has become a complex issue, particularly as the constitutional court had previously said it was illegal to ban them.

More than two-thirds of those voters wanted to retain the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman under civil law.

The same-sex marriage issue has been a challenge for President Tsai Ing-wen, who had promised marriage equality in her election campaign.

At the weekend, whilst attending another school function, she pointed out that: "Men in Scotland wear skirts, so why can't men in Taiwan?"

Some local workers also got involved, including the Mozilla Taiwan Community, who shared their outfits on Twitter.

Social media users in Taiwan and mainland China have come out in support of the movement.

On China's popular micro-blogging site Weibo, some users came out in support including the Beijing Gay Centre, and "I am born", who said more people should put aside hostility and embrace difference.

You might also be interested in:

However, not everyone agreed, with comments like "idiots" and "I don't support LGBT" being left on the Weibo accounts.