Sat, Oct 30, 2010 - Page 16 News List

Party politics

This year’s Taiwan LGBT Pride parade takes issue with government policies that exclude same-sex couples, and politicians who fail to make good on election promises to engender equality

By Andrew C.C. Huang  /  Contributing Reporter

The parade will pass through Ximending, home of the Red House district, which after years as a dilapidated group of buildings was rejuvenated in 2004, largely because a cluster of gay bars opened there. The area, also known as Red House Rainbow Plaza (紅樓彩虹廣場), became Taiwan’s first openly gay neighborhood. However, until recently the city government’s informational materials placed in the Red House main building ignored the gay community’s presence.

In August, a petition demanding credit for the gay community’s contribution to the area’s redevelopment was launched on Facebook.

A few weeks after the Red House Comes Alive Because of Homosexuals (紅樓因同志而美麗) campaign began, more than 3,000 Facebook users had signed the petition, which was sent to the city government.

After reviewing the petition, the city government made changes in its policy to include information about the plaza in guided tours of the area.

“I’m glad about Internet users’ support of this campaign and am positive about how the city government responded to this issue,” an organizer of the online campaign told the Taipei Times, who requested anonymity because his family and employer do not know he is gay. “Taipei ranks right next to Bangkok as one of the most gay-friendly cities in Asia. We should use this rainbow resource well and try to attract more international tourists to Taipei.”

From a modest beginning of 500 participants in 2003, Taiwan LGBT Pride attracted 25,000 attendees last year. Organizers estimate 30,000 will attend this year. Previous editions of the parade have included groups from the UK, US, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and China.

This year’s parade features Mando-pop superstar Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹), better known as A-mei (阿妹), as the Rainbow Ambassador for the second year in a row. Chang will perform in the end-of-parade concert at the intersection of Gongyuan Road (公園路) and Ketagalan Boulevard (凱達格蘭大道).

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