Gender News in Taiwan
Activists Demand Redress for Long-haired Policeman

【By Abraham Gerber】

The Ministry of the Interior should overrule the firing of a male police officer with long hair and comprehensively review grooming regulations to bring them in line with the Act of Gender Equality in Employment, labor and human rights groups said yesterday.

At a protest outside the Ministry of the Interior building, 20 people from the Taiwan Police Trade Union, Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, Taipei City Confederation of Trade Unions and other groups said that the disciplining of Yeh Chi-yuan should be reversed, demanding a response from Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong.

Yeh Chi-yuan — who serves in the National Police Agencies Second Special Police Corps responsible for guarding one of the nation’s nuclear plants — is in final stages of appealing his dismissal after accumulating 58 warnings over three years for refusing to cut his hair in accordance with police grooming rules.

Yeh Jiunn-rong was known for boasting shoulder length locks during his time as a professor of law at National Taiwan University before cutting his hair short immediately prior to taking office.

“The police force lacks gender awareness and constructs police officers’ identities to be strong and masculine, with no room for showing even the slightest weakness,” Yeh Chi-yuan said, adding that the National Police Agency imposes different grooming standards for men and women.

“If you can say that something does not violate gender equality because there are rules for both men and women, then you justify requiring male and female police officers to give out different numbers of traffic tickets each month — there is a rule for both men and women after all,” he said, adding that long hair would not interfere with job performance.

“Hair is a part of the body and everyone should have the right to preserve the completeness of their body,” he said. “My gender identity is not very masculine, so it is painful for me to be forced to conform to a constructed male identity.”

Taiwan Association of Human Rights vice secretary-general Shih Yi-hsiang said the disparate grooming rules are an example of how the nation has failed to fully implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which were ratified and given force of domestic law by the Legislative Yuan in 2009.

“This is an extremely low-level rule, but the National Police Administration did not complete a thorough review when it examined what rules might violate the treaties,” Shih said.

Yeh Chi-yuan said activists plan an administrative court appeal after his dismissal is finalized.
He said that the group rejected a government representative sent to receive their demands after learning that he was from the National Police Agency, not the Ministry of the Interior.

[Taipei Times, 2016-06-24]

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