Though most of the homophobic attacks against Tsai come from the opposition Kuomintang party, Lev Nachman, a doctoral candidate who studies Taiwanese politics at the University of California, Irvine, said that her own DPP may also be the source. He said, many members of Tsai’s own party are against same-sex marriage. “The biggest misconception is that the Kuomintang is the conservative party and the DPP is progressive,” he added.

But Taiwanese elections generally hinge on voter preferences for what kind of China policy they want the government to pursue. “How (Taiwanese) feel about gay people has almost nothing to do with how (they) feel about China,” said Nachman.

In the end, it seems that how voters feel about China will determine the way they vote.  The latest poll shows Tsai with a comfortable lead over Han, whose party favors closer ties with China. Tsai’s lead is helped by Beijing’s continuing hardline policy against the island and its iron grip on Hong Kong, which burnish her credentials as a leader committed to protecting Taiwan from Chinese encroachment.

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