Taiwan’s annual pride parade used to be an occasion for the LGBT community to express themselves and demand equal rights, but this year, it’s a day for many to celebrate.

In May 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples, including some of their parents, attended a mass wedding banquet in front of the Presidential Palace in Taipei the day after.

The parade organizer estimated 170,000 attendees today, with people from over 100 countries. Drag kings and queens from other Asian countries like Thailand, Japan, and South Korea joined the celebration on the streets.

A group of Koreans who were dressed in hanbok, their traditional attire, said they have been participating in Taiwan's pride parade for the past decade.

"It's an important event for us because Taiwan has an open environment, whereas a lot of people in Korea are still very conservative so we don't have a parade of this scale," the group told The News Lens.


Photo Credit: Daphne K. Lee / The News Lens

A South Korean group in traditional attire joins Taipei's pride parade on October 26, 2019.

Taiwan’s marriage equality came after decades of LGBT activism and public debate. Although the high court had already ruled in 2017 that it was unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from marrying, the process of legalization took almost two years, with conservative opposition calling for a referendum in between. During the referendum, a majority of Taiwanese voted against same-sex marriage, but the LGBT community continued their fight.

On the eve of Taipei Pride, Premier Su Tseng-chang released a video explaining why marriage equality matters. Speaking in Taiwanese Hokkien , Su’s speech appealed to the older generations of Taiwanese who may not be as accepting of the LGBT community as their children.

"In the past, due to a lack of understanding, we thought homosexuality was an illness. Like many others, I had mocked or even bullied gay people when I was younger," Su said in his video. "But modern medical science has proved that, although homosexuality is in the minority, it is inherent and natural... and we should respect and treat [LGBT people] equally."

At the parade, Hong Kong activists were also seen waving a rainbow rendition of the protest flag with the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times." In addition to chanting the slogan, some marchers showed support for Hong Kong's LGBT community as it suffered a defeat last week when the court ruled against same-sex unions.


Photo Credit: Daphne K. Lee / The News Lens

In Taiwan, same-sex couples are still fighting for their rights despite the legalization in May. The current law restricts adoption rights and prohibits transnational couples from marrying if the foreign partner's country has not legalized same-sex marriage.

Chen Ming-yeng, a lawyer representing the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, said the Taiwanese government is refusing to recognize transnational same-sex marriage based on the argument that it would "violate public order and good morals."

Many transnational couples in Taiwan are still waiting for the approval of their marriage applications. But for this weekend in Taipei, thousands more are celebrating.

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