A record-breaking 30,000 people took to Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei on Saturday for the ninth annual Taiwan LGBT Pride parade.
While the mood was clearly festive, signs and T-shirts bearing gay-rights slogans underscored the deeper importance of the event. Homosexuality is legal in Taiwan and discrimination based on sexual orientation has been unlawful since 2007. But a strong social taboo still exists, and a number of parade-goers still wear masks.
The Taipei Times reports:
J.J. Lai, co-founder of the first Taiwan LGBT Parade in 2003, said the situation may have improved a little, but discrimination from the general public and politicians still exists. “Nine years ago, we departed from the 228 Peace Park with only a few hundred people. Today, we’re on Ketagalan Boulevard with more than 30,000 people,” Lai said. “Nine years ago, there was only one Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade in Taipei, but this year parades are taking place in Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Hualien,” he added. “We can’t deny there have been changes. However, we should not overlook the threats posed by homophobic people and organizations.” Lai accused President Ma Ying-jeou of having broken his campaign pledges four years ago that he would promote LGBT rights in his policies. “Four years have passed and he’s running for his second term, but we’re still not getting what he promised — it’s all bullshit,” he said.
After the parade concluded demonstrators stepped on the ground a hundred times, signifying how gay rights, despite their efforts, have gone nowhere.
Click through to view a slideshow of the 2001 Taiwan Pride parade
Images via Zaylin14