More than 50,000 people yesterday took to the streets in Taipei to show their support for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, calling on the government to respect diversity in families and legalize same-sex marriage.
Holding up giant rainbow banners over their heads, tens of thousands of people — many of whom began to assemble on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office well ahead of the scheduled departure time of 2pm — shouted in excitement as the host of the rally announced the beginning of this year’s gay pride parade.
Prior to the departure of the parade, Hong Kong pop star Gigi Leung (梁詠琪) and singer Anthony Wong (黃天耀) — who earlier confirmed he is gay — showed up to express their support for LGBT rights.
“Love is gender-blind, everyone is entitled to the right to enjoy happiness,” Leung said. “I can feel the joy of marriage after I got married last year, and I hope that everyone can enjoy the same degree of happiness as I do, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Wong sang the theme song of the 1997 Hong Kong film Happy Together (春光乍洩), which recounts the story of gay couple, and joined the parade.
“Things are better now than 20 years ago, but discrimination [against LGBT people] still exists,” Wong said. “After taking part in the parade in Taiwan, I hope to take the experience back to Hong Kong to fight against discrimination.”
Taiwanese actress Chu Hui-chen (朱慧珍) — who became active in LGBT rights campaigns after her lesbian daughter committed suicide in May — also appeared.
She called on all parents of LGBT people to take part in the parade and in the campaign for LGBT rights.
Many participants in the parade were creative in their outfits, with some men dressed in bridal gowns, as female marching band members or wearing only shorts, while many women dressed up in men’s formal suits.
The atmosphere of the parade was festive, but the appeal was serious.
“We would like to call on the government, and mainstream society to seriously consider the idea that everyone has the right to get married, and to form a family — be they heterosexual or a member of the LGBT community,” said Albert, head of the Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade Alliance, the group that organizes the annual LGBT pride parade.
“Legally recognized marriage is important, not only because it’s about love and commitment between a couple, but also because it would enable a couple to enjoy rights and share responsibilities,” he said.
While Taiwanese society may seem more accepting of LGBT communities, Albert said that he still was not too optimistic about the prospects for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“Quite often, the public holds an attitude of ‘distant friendliness’ or ‘packaged discrimination’ toward members of LGBT communities,” Albert said. “Many people may seem friendly to LGBT groups because they think these groups have nothing to do with them, but once they feel that some LGBT issues would affect them, they show some hostility.”
Splitting into two groups with different routes after departing, marchers returned to Ketagalan Boulevard at about 4:30pm, where they had a tribute to three late advocates of LGBT rights — entertainer Da Bing (大炳), activist Chiang Chia-wen (江嘉雯) and stage actor Liu Ching-hung (劉敬弘).
The parade’s organizers said the tribute was to recognize the contribution of the three to the LGBT rights movement.