East Asia's largest Pride March: Taiwan Celebrates Diversity, and Equality

Taipei: Around 120,000 people, many holding rainbow flags, marched through Taiwan’s capital Taipei on Saturday to celebrate LGBTQ+ equality in east Asia’s largest Pride march. In 2019 Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage, which made it the first country in Asia to do so and is proud of its reputation as a bastion of LGBTQ+ rights and liberalism.

The rainy streets of central Taipei were stuffed for the annual parade, the twentieth since it started, including go-go dancers and drag queens on the back of colorfully decorated trucks, joined by several senior members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

“I’m very proud that Taiwan has Pride,” said social worker Chang Chi, 28, who took part with her girlfriend. “Taiwan is the first place where same-sex marriage was legalized in Asia. That’s not possible in many countries. Taiwan is a place where you can be who you are.” Coordinators put the number of attendees at 120,000, some of whom additionally carried flags and banners in support of Tibet, Hong Kong, and Ukraine.

President Tsai Ing-wen, in a Facebook message of support for the Pride march, said individuals could scarcely have imagined 20 years ago that Taiwan would have to lead the way in legalizing same-sex marriage in Asia. “Now, being able to choose marriage is something that most people find commonplace,” she wrote.

The occasion took place one month before Taiwan’s mayoral elections, a key test of support for the DPP and main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls in early 2024. Former Vice President Chen Chien-Jen headed up the DPP’s designation along with the party’s Taipei mayoral candidate Chen Shih-Chung, who oversaw Taiwan’s battle against COVID-19 when he was health minister, marching behind a banner reading “democracy supports gays”.

Taiwan’s receptiveness on LGBTQ+ issues stand in marked contrast with its giant neighbor China, which has been ramping up the military strain to declare its sovereignty claims over the island.

While same-sex relations are not illegal in China, same-sex marriage is, and the government has been taking action against depictions of LGBTQ+ people in the media and the community’s use of social media.

By Archana

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