Thousands attend Taiwan’s first pride since legalisation of gay marriage

Revellers march through Taipei as same-sex equality continues to divide country

Nearly 200,000 revellers have marched through Taipei in a riot of rainbow colours and celebration as Taiwan held its first pride parade since making history in Asia by legalising gay marriage.

The island has long hosted the region’s largest pride marches but this year Taiwan’s LGBT community and its supporters had an extra reason to celebrate on Saturday.

In May, politicians took the unprecedented decision to legalise same-sex marriages, becoming the first place in Asia to do so. More than 2,000 couples have since married, many of them taking part in Saturday’s festival.

“I am very excited because it’s the first pride parade after same-sex marriages are recognised and I got married,” said Shane Lin, who became one of the first to marry his partner in the days after the new law was introduced.

“I am very moved that people around the world are joining us,” he said.

Behind him passed a steady stream of colour, including dancers, unicorn floats and rainbow balloon arches.

“I support marriage equality because it is a basic human right,” Henry Wu, a heterosexual teacher who brought his five-year-old son to the march said.

“Taiwan made huge progress in legalising same-sex marriages … I feel very proud we are the first in Asia to do so.”

In the past decade Taiwan has become increasingly progressive on gay rights with Taipei home to a thriving LGBT community and increasingly large pride marches.

Organisers estimated that at least 170,000 people attended Saturday’s festivities.

The issue of same-sex equality has deeply polarised society. Taiwan’s constitutional court made a landmark ruling in 2017 to legalise gay marriage and ruled its decision should be implemented within two years.

Conservative and religious groups mobilised to oppose amending the civil code and won a series of referendums last November in which voters rejected defining marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman.

In May, conservative politicians put forward rival bills that offered something closer to limited same-sex unions but those measures ultimately failed in parliament.

Opponents have vowed to punish the president, Tsai Ing-wen, and the politicians who supported the gay marriage law at the 11 January elections when voters would elect a new president and parliament.

The election will be dominated by the relationship with China and local economic issues, but Tsai’s support of Taiwan’s gay marriage law – which still contains restrictions not faced by heterosexual couples – could harm her on the campaign trail, especially in more rural and conservative places.

Same-sex couples could currently only adopt their partners’ biological children and could only marry foreigners from countries where gay marriage is also recognised.

“Marriage equality is the beginning, it’s not the end,” said Leong Chin-fai, a Macanese national who is currently unable to marry his Taiwanese partner. “We hope to keep pushing for issues including recognition of international marriages, parental and adoption rights.”

by Agence France-Presse in Taipei
Source – The Guardian