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Thousands march in Taipei's gay pride parade

2014/10/25 20:11:23

Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) Tens of thousands of people marched through Taipei on Saturday in a colorful annual tradition to call for rights and more visibility for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and other sexual minorities.

Rainbow flags, placards reading "eliminate discrimination," and people dressed in flamboyant costumes dominated the streets as the pride parade, one of the largest in Asia, launched from Ketagalan Boulevard at 2 p.m.

As participants marched past Renai Road, they held up leaflets portraying a rainbow flag. An estimated 65,000 people participated in the parade, according to Taiwan LGBT Pride, the organizer of the event.

"Walk in Queers' Shoes" was the theme this year to call more attention to minority members of the LGBT community, such as HIV patients and sex workers, the organizer said.

The parade also hopes to highlight the diversity of the LGBT community.

"The LGBT community is so diverse and complicated. Some people recognize only gays and lesbians, but there are also transgender, bisexual, intersexual and asexual people," said Albert Yang, a spokesman of the parade.

"We hope there is a chance for these groups to be seen and heard," Yang said. "It is only possible to talk more about (their rights) after they have become visible."

[CNA photo Oct. 25, 2014]

"We live in a diverse society and I hope more people will embrace and appreciate the differences between people," said 26-year-old Jed Lee, who is joining the parade for the first time this year.

Lee, who works in the service industry, expressed optimism about a draft bill in the Legislature that aims to legalize same-sex marriage and believes Taiwan is making good progress on LGBT issues.

"I am here to support the LGBT parade," said 43-year-old Danny Tan from Malaysia, who flies to Taipei each year to participate. "We don't have this in Malaysia. I hope the parade becomes more successful as time goes by."

Tan, who works in the events and entertainment business, touted Taiwan as one of the more advanced countries in Asia in terms of LGBT issues. Although he thinks it is "impossible" for Malaysia to organize a similar event in the foreseeable future, "of course we hope one day it would."

On Saturday, opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and former Chairman Su Tseng-chang took to social media to voice support for the parade.

"I hope the world's lovers will be able to receive everyone's blessing," Tsai wrote in a brief post, along with a photo of a rainbow flag.

[Japanese visitors taking part in the march. CNA photo Oct. 25, 2014]

Taiwan is widely considered to be one of Asia's more liberal countries on LGBT issues.

A draft bill that would legalize same-sex marriage and allow married gay couples to adopt children cleared a first reading in the Legislative Yuan last year. Since then, however, the bill's progress has stalled, largely due to opposition from religious groups.

A public hearing on the draft bill was held at the Legislature on Oct. 16.

[CNA photo Oct. 25, 2014]

Although some consider it a step forward, Yang, the parade spokesman, said it is "difficult" for him to be optimistic about the draft bill as the majority of lawmakers have not expressed support for it.

Nevertheless, debates on the issue have at least raised awareness among members of the public, he said.

(By Christie Chen)

●Oct. 25: Religious groups oppose 'sexual liberation' on gay parade pride day