News (World)

Taiwan just held the largest Asian Pride event in history

A crowd of young Taiwanese people wearing rainbow flags stands at the 2023 Taiwan Pride parade.
Attendees of the 2023 Taiwan Pride parade Photo: Twitter screenshot

Over 176,000 people attended Taiwan’s 21st annual Pride march last Saturday in the capital city of Taipei, making it the world’s largest Asian LGBTQ+ Pride event in history.

The event, which had the theme “Stand with Diversity,” celebrated two recent LGBTQ+ rights victories in the country: the legalization of gay adoption and the recognition of Taiwanese same-sex spouses who were married in foreign countries.

Lai Ching-te — the country’s vice president and a leading presidential candidate who is running as the progressive party’s candidate in the January 13, 2024 elections — marched in the parade, making him the highest-ranked politician to do so.

“I want to explain to all my good friends that marriage equality is not the end but the starting point of Taiwan’s equal rights culture,” he said during a speech at the event. “In the future, I will stand with everyone and move forward together on the road of diversity…. I will stand with all of you, firmly supporting you in being true to yourselves, [and] making Taiwan even more beautiful.”

In a Facebook post about the event, President Tsai Ing-wen wrote, “Under the umbrella of Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, we learn to accept everyone’s characteristics and respect everyone’s differences.”

Visitors from neighboring Asian countries — all of which have fewer LGBTQ+ rights than in Taiwan — attended the event to celebrate and show solidarity, according to TaiwanPlus News. Visitors from the U.S. and the U.K. also came to bond with Asian queers and to share experiences about how right-wingers have attempted to roll back LGBTQ+ expression and rights in their home countries.

The first iteration of Taiwan Pride had fewer than 200 attendees. Last year, it had approximately 126,000 attendees. In 2019, Taiwan made international headlines after becoming the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Despite the country’s achievements, it still has further to go to achieve complete queer equality, Joyce Tang, executive director of the Taiwan Equality Campaign, said.

Tang noted that same-sex couples aren’t legally allowed to conceive children through in vitro fertilization. Also, transgender people are required to undergo gender-affirming surgery before they’re allowed to change gender markers on their official documents.

Tawain will host WorldPride in 2025, marking the event’s 50th anniversary.

“Bringing WorldPride to this region for the first time will create a significant impact to the much-needed visibility and awareness of human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community there while providing the ability for millions more to participate from surrounding countries and territories, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia,” said Julian Sanjivan said in a statement for InterPride, the company that organizes WorldPride.

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