TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Thousands of gay rights supporters marched through Taiwan’s capital on Saturday, Oct. 31, calling for increased tolerance and the enactment of anti-discrimination legislation.
The seventh annual Taiwan Gay Parade in Taipei featured marchers decked out in costumes ranging from prom queens to sumo wrestlers, loud pulsating music, and bright orange and yellow banners.
Taiwan is considered to have one of Asia’s most vibrant gay communities, and its gay rights parade is the largest in the Chinese-speaking world.
Organizer Tung Chu-chu said this year’s theme was “Love Out Loud,” reflecting the participants’ hopes that “through love, we can eliminate discrimination.”
“We love the people around us, but sometimes, the society and the government don’t love us, or even see us,” she said.
She chided the government of President Ma Ying-jeou for not passing anti-discrimination legislation.
“The government made us lots of empty promises, but so far, they haven’t come through,” she said.
Hsu Yu-lu, a 24-year-old accountant from the central city of Taichung, said the atmosphere for homosexuals in Taiwan had improved considerably in recent years.
“People are much more tolerant of gays,” she said. “The situation is getting better from day to day.”
Ricky Lin, 30, who works at the Gstar gay bar in Taipei, agreed, but said there was still room for improvement.
“Things are not completely open,” he said.
Presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi said that Ma had supported gay rights when he was mayor of Taipei, and that “he continues with that support.” Ma was mayor from 1998 to 2006.
Tung said she expected up to 25,000 people to march Saturday, but there appeared to only be around 4,000 participants in the early stages. Police estimates were not yet available. ♦