An estimated 200,000 people attended the annual Taiwan LGBT Pride March in the afternoon of 26 October in the capital Taipei. Now on its 17th year, Taiwan’s Pride march has become the biggest Pride event in Asia. The first Pride parade on 1 November 2003, had only 800 participants but 2019 saw its highest number yet, surpassing 2018’s 130,000.
Furthermore, this year’s march had a more celebratory mood as the island state achieved marriage equality with the historic legalization of same-sex marriage last May, a first in Asia. The organizers though reminded that this is not the end yet “because discrimination and misunderstandings haven’t disappeared entirely. Whenever the sun shines, we should not forget that there are still shadows behind us. As long as we are willing to step and speak up, our stories will make Taiwanese society more understanding and make more changes.”
The theme of Taiwan LGBT Pride 2019 was “Together, Make Taiwan Better,” emphasizing the efforts to create a better society for everyone.
“Whether it is about long-term care for the elderly, de-stigmatization of HIV/AIDS, gender equity education, workplace equality, marriage equality, equal rights for people with disabilities, legalization of sex work, indigenous people and immigrants, as well as transformative justice, as a member of the LGBT+ community, we can live and stand with each other, being each other’s ‘good neighbor,’ by caring and learning about these issues, and then further supporting each other,” organizers stated. “In the Taiwanese society, diversity, inclusion and harmony are the wisdoms of interpersonal interactions and social values that everyone praises. Straight or gay, we are each other’s good neighbors, with whom we can live together in harmony. Meanwhile, Taiwan will also become the world’s good neighbor because of the happiness and mutual wellbeing within our society.”
Aside from Taiwanese participants, the Pride march also drew supporters from other parts of the world, both LGBTQ+ and straight, including Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Germany, Canada, the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and The United Kingdom.
The event enjoyed support from different local and international organizations, mostly international businesses and companies, economic and trade offices of other countries particularly the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO), embassies and consulates and the national government.
At the European Union-Taiwan LGBTI Human Rights Conference on 24 October, Filip Grzegorzewski, head of EETO, said, “Pride gets a new meaning in Taiwan. Taiwan is not only a beacon of democracy, but also the symbol of diversity, acceptance and openness. People in Taiwan can be truly proud of (themselves)!”
The night before the Pride march, 25 October, the first Taiwan Transgender Parade was held, starting at 7 p.m. at Changsha Street and ending at Kunming Street in the city’s Wanhua District.
After that day, our original families continue to be happy, the original marriages are still beautiful, and the original religious beliefs are still free. The only difference is that more people can enjoy happiness together.
The Pride event started at 12 noon with the opening of the Rainbow Market and several performances at Taipei City Hall Square. The march started by 2 p.m., divided into six teams of different colors, representing the rainbow flag and with several colorful floats. It proceeded to Zhongxiao East Road and then to Ketagalan Boulevard. The parade ended in front of the Presidential Palace by 7 p.m., where speeches were delivered and performances were held.
Aside from several after-parties happening all over the city that lasted the whole weekend, the Pride event was complemented by exhibits, conferences and talks during the week.
The Taipei International Rainbow Family Seminar, hosted by the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy, shared stories of international rainbow families and cross-border issues, assisted reproduction, adoption rights and related legal issues.
“The Liberation of Sex, Feeling and Acceptance” is an exhibit that challenges the concepts of the physical and socially-constructed body.
The forum “Connect the Rainbow Dots,” organized by the Taiwan Association for the Promotion of Civil Rights with LGBT-friendly companies, discussed gender-friendly policies and company culture. On the other hand, “Crippling Sex: How ‘Abnormal Bodies’ Teach us Extraordinary Sex” explored sexuality, including BDSM, in the context of people with disabilities and emphasized the importance of the emotional nourishment of intimate relationships.
The exhibit “Positive Life 2.0” is an informative look at HIV and AIDS, featuring stories of people with HIV, while “The Seductive Mickey: Chun Junzhi Retrospective” features the life and work of pioneering documentary filmmaker Mickey Junzhi Chen, known for his work on gay and feminist issues, gender, sexual harassment, AIDS and domestic violence.
Taiwan has been known for its liberal values and progress. The national government of Taiwan, led by the Democratic Progressive Party and its President Tsai Ing-wen, has been supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.
On 17 May, the Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Constitutional Interpretation 748, which allows same-sex couples to marry, was passed, after the country’s constitutional court made a landmark ruling in 2017 to legalize same-sex marriage. This was despite oppositions and efforts to block or limit it. After, about 2,000 couples have married.
On the day of the Pride march, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on Facebook: “We hope you have your glad-rags on, because this year’s celebration should be a special one after the passing of #SameSexMarriage legislation, with over 200,000 people expected to attend from all over the world!”
President Tsai Ing-wen also posted on Facebook her message: “After that day, our original families continue to be happy, the original marriages are still beautiful, and the original religious beliefs are still free. The only difference is that more people can enjoy happiness together.”
“Thank you to all for understanding each other, and being inclusive. Let the controversy be gone and let happiness come,” the post ends.