Members and friends of the foreign community joined the “Taiwan LGBT Pride” (台灣同志遊行) on Saturday, brandishing national flags and sporting national costumes.
According to Teng Chu-yuan (鄧筑媛), deputy coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan (婚姻平權大平台), the organizer of the annual extravaganza, “Taiwan LGBT Pride” is the biggest in East Asia with more than 200,000 participants this year, including many foreigners.
Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in May 2019, sending a signal to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for a more open society. More than 180 groups joined the event this year alongside 37 local and foreign businesses and trade offices that invited their staff to participate.
Many foreigners also traveled to “Taiwan LGBT Pride” every year such as Lee Sang Eun from Seoul, South Korea. Lee is a member of the Rodem Church, a religious organization from South Korea. He and his church mates joined the members of the Tong-Kwang Light House Presbyterian Church (同光同志長老教會) in the parade.
Lee said there is still room for improvement for LGBT rights in South Korea. During the annual queer festival in Seoul, for instance, “homophobia surrounds us; we are cursed: ‘Queers go to hell,’” Lee said.
That’s the reason he came to “Taiwan LGBT Pride” to not only support his friends in Taiwan but also to express his support to all Asian queers. “I’m excited! It’s like heaven,” Lee said.
Taiwan hosted the pride parade in 2003, a first in Asia. Since then, the event has grown bigger every year, and attracted a soaring number of people from across the world.
“Every year when I come, it’s bigger and bigger and better,” said Brian Lewis, a New Yorker who joined the parade for 3 consecutive years. “I enjoy it every year.”
Lewis knew there was going to be a big celebration since same-sex marriage finally got legalized, and he felt he must come and take part. “It’s very difficult to get to this point,” he said.
Despite the legalization, there’s still a flaw in the bill though. If one of the spouses is not from a country where same-sex marriage is legal, the couple won’t be allowed to register their union in Taiwan.
A-Tang is from Perak, Malaysia. She said she wants to live with her Taiwanese partner, so she came to Taiwan to study. Although they had a wedding celebration, they couldn’t register their marriage in Taiwan though.
“I want to marry her,” she said, that’s why she came to the march today, advocating for marital rights for mixed couples.
Teng also acknowledged this problem, saying that that the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan would keep on doing advocacy work to amend the law to allow mixed couples like Tang and her partner to can get married in Taiwan. ●
By Carol Kan