This past Saturday saw around 123,000 people from more than 20 countries hit the street in Taipei to take part in Taiwan’s 15th LGBTQ pride parade.
Unlike the past few years, this year’s parade had a bit more festive atmosphere in the air, riding the celebratory wave of the constitutional court ruling in May that paves the way for legalizing marriage equality. Despite the government’s slow pace to implement the court ruling since May, there was no sign that the crowd was going to waste this opportunity to bring the issue back into the social spotlight.
Rainbow flags of all sizes were visible throughout downtown Taipei, and large crowds gathered in areas around key government institutions since early afternoon. Banners with creative slogans urging the government to act on the draft bills spread through the preparation areas.
As I moved towards Jingfu Gate on Ketagalan Boulevard, flags and signs of different rights groups, political parties and corporations began to catch my attention. Unlike the past few years, several major corporations such as GAP, Airbnb, Citi Bank, Uber, HP and Microsoft put together their own teams to show support for the LGBTQ community. This is a clear sign that Taiwan’s LGBTQ pride parade is slowly transitioning from an occasion for pure political activism to an event that celebrates diversity and calls for continuous tolerance in society. Major corporations are taking the lead to show others in the private sector that respecting diverse sexual orientation is the trend and cultivating a safe work environment for LGBTQ employees is a way to boost employee morale.
As the first LGBTQ pride parade since the court ruling in May, it is no surprise to see several startup political parties, including the New Power Party (NPP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Taiwan Radical Wings, come out calling for the government and legislature’s immediate action on passing the draft bills that have been set aside for the last five months. Prominent figures such as Huang Kuo-chang from the NPP and Miao Poya from the SDP were leading the parade. However, the lack of DPP and KMT’s presence reflects the gradual change of Taiwan’s political landscape, with younger parties beginning to dominate the discussion on progressive social issues like marriage equality.
Additionally, this year’s parade shows that Taiwan’s LGBTQ movement is undertaking a transition. With marriage equality close to being legalized, the battle has now moved back to the topic of sex education, which is part of the LGBTQ movement’s long term focus on tolerance and respect for sexuality and gender. This year’s theme, “Make love, not war — sex ed is the way to go,” can be viewed as the LGBTQ community’s declaration of returning to the core of their movement.
I believe it is particularly important for the LGBTQ community to use the parade as an occasion to show that the fight for greater tolerance and respect for diversity in sexual orientation will not stop even after marriage equality is legalized.
Perhaps feeling the rising pressure from the great turnout at the pride parade, President Tsai Ing-wen reassured the public that the constitutional court ruling in May is legally binding, and the government will be responsible for designing a legal framework that corresponds properly to the grand justices’ ruling. This year’s parade not only helped to re-energize the momentum behind Taiwan’s marriage equality movement, it also shows that Taiwan’s LGBTQ movement continues to mature and inspire the rest of Asia to follow suit.
(Feature photo by William Yang)
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