Events mark gay pride birthday

CELEBRATING DIVERSITY::Organizers of the Chinese-speaking world’s largest annual gay festival are planning to highlight ongoing injustices around the issue of marriage

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 - Page 3

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, organizers of Taiwan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride are holding a series of events in the months leading up to the Chinese-speaking world’s largest annual pride parade, which is set to take place on Oct. 27 this year.

A one-month long, cross-island relay started on Saturday in Greater Kaohsiung, with participants carrying a large rainbow flag while marching through the streets.

Members of the LGBT communities and their supporters in different cities and towns are welcome to join the march and also visit important venues and sites relating to homosexual history and culture, organizers said.

Citing a 2010 tragedy in which a teenage lesbian couple committed suicide in Checheng (車城), Pingtung County, one of the relay’s organizers, A-Tuan (阿端), pointed out that even though much progress has been made over the past decade, homosexual youth living in the countryside still lack the support and resources to match their needs.

“Participants of the relay are encouraged to devise their own routes, visit places and share experiences that are important to local LGBT communities or themselves — to make people aware of the LGBT community and possibly gain a more in-depth understanding,” he said.

With more and more small-scale LGBT parades and events recently staged in cities including Taichung, Hualien and Pingtung, the cross-island march is intended to connect LGBT groups and individuals across the country, A-Tuan said.

The rainbow-flag relay will return to Kaohsiung — hosting its third-ever event of this nature — on Sept. 22, with the LGBT Parade set to depart from and then end at the city’s Central Park.

Under this year’s slogan, “Revolutionary Marriage: Equal Marriage Rights and Diverse Partnership” (革命婚姻──婚姻平權,伴侶多元), parade organizers in Taipei hope to use the LGBT communities’ growing power to address the issue of same-sex marriage.

“We are not encouraging people to get married or to naively think that we will live happily ever after,” one of the events organizers Mu Chuan (沐川) said. “Our emphasis is that homosexuals should have the same legal rights as heterosexuals.”

She pointed out that unless same-sex unions are granted with the same legal status as heterosexual marriage, same-sex couples enjoy none of the legal benefits of marriage such as insurance benefits, custody and inheritance rights, as well as the right to visit partners in hospital and to make decisions regarding medical care.

Last month, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights proposed its version of amendments to the nation’s Civil Law, pushing legislation of civil partnerships, same-sex marriages and opening the right to adoption to gay people and unmarried straight couples.

To further examine the limitations of the marriage system and how LGBT communities may imagine their unions differently, parade organizers are to hold a series of forums, with the first one slated to take place on Saturday at the National Taiwan University Alumni Club. Participating speakers are to include professor Ning Yin-bin (甯應斌) from the National Central University and Wu Shao-wen (吳紹文), general-secretary of the Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy.

The Taiwan LGBT Pride Community — which organizes the parade — has also called on past participants to submit photographs and other visual documents about previous events. The submitted material will be used for retrospective purposes. More information can be found at www.twpride.org.