The first annual gay pride parade in Taipei, Taiwan was held in 2003, and attracted over 20 thousand people.
Ma Ying-jeou, who was the mayor at the time, gave a speech at the parade.
“Taipei, as an international city, should respect individuals of different groups and cultures,” he said. “The existence and respect of such communities is important to the diversity of a city.”
He later became president and served from 2008-2016.
The parade is a social movement, with few advertisements and no identifications with corporations.
Unlike Pride parades in North America or Europe, Taiwan doesn’t close any streets for its parade. Instead, people crowd the sidewalks or the city.
Last year, 137,000 people attended the Pride Parade in Taipei, making it the second largest pride event in East Asia behind Tel Aviv, Israel.
The continuous advocacy for queer rights in Taiwan has led to several changes in the legal system, which helps to promote full equality for the LGBTQ community.
In 2017, the Constitutional Court granted full marriage rights for same-sex marriages. This decision made Taiwan the first Asian country to recognize same-sex marriage.
There is an opportunity for progression with laws around gender identity. People are legally allowed to change their gender, but they have to undergo gender affirmation surgery.
There is no nationwide law prohibiting any forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The education system is the only institution that specifically prohibits unfair treatment based on gender identity. However, people have full protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The seventeenth parade will be held on October 26, 2019, and is expected to attract well over 100,000 people.
Here are some photos from recent Pride Parades in Taipei:
Thousands gather to advocate for LGBTQ rights in Taipei, 2016. ShutterstockPeople carry a giant rainbow flag through the streets of Taipei for Pride. Shutterstock