Taiwan hosts Asia’s ‘biggest’ gay rally
A TAIWANESE gay and lesbian group hailed what it said was the biggest ever gay pride parade in Asia over the weekend, with more than 30,000 people taking to the streets to attend the event.
“The rally was a big success as the turnout was bigger than we had expected,” Rex Shau, a spokesman for Taiwan LGBT Pride, told AFP.
The tens of thousands who marched through Taipei on Saturday included supporters from China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Waving rainbow flags and placards, the marchers paraded for about a kilometre, many wearing Brazilian carnival-style costumes while others wore only men’s briefs despite chilly winds and drizzle.
Organisers said they hoped to move gay and lesbian issues higher up the political agenda in five cities ahead of mayoral elections in less than a month’s time.
The vote is considered a mid-term test of Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou, who is also chairman of the Kuomintang party and who swept to power in 2008.
“While we hoped the rally would raise awareness of gays and lesbians, the rally also aimed to vie for substantial support from the election candidates,” Rex Shau said.
“Some politicians just paid lip service, never taking real steps to adopt non-discrimination measures.”
Taiwan’s cabinet in 2003 drafted a controversial bill to legalise same-sex marriages and recognise the rights of homosexual couples to adopt children, which would make it the first country in Asia to do so.
However, the law has yet to be passed and some gay groups have criticised its drafting as simply a ploy to woo voters.