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65,000 Celebrate Gay Pride in Taiwan

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Oct 30, 2012
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More than 50,000 people came out to celebrate Taiwan’s 10th annual Gay Pride on Saturday, the Agence France-Presse reports.

Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of the country’s capital of Taipei last weekend while wearing bright colored clothes adorned with feathers, skimpy swimsuits and other flamboyant outfits. Many marchers waved rainbow flags and signs with the words "marriage" and "equal rights" written on them, in order to support the measure that would legalize same-sex marriage.

"The theme this year is to fight for equal rights on marriage. Gay people are also tax-paying citizens and we demand the same basic right as any heterosexual couples," Mu Chuan, one of the organizers of the pride event said.

"Even though marriage is a very personal choice, I think gay people should not be stripped of the right to choose to get married," Mi Feng, a software programmer from Taipei who was holding a bridal bouquet in an all white outfit, said.

Kongpaphop Panya, a 30-year-old doctor, said he wants to be able to express that he has the "right to love equally like others."

LGBT rights groups in Taiwan have launched a campaign in hopes to collect one million signatures for a bill they drafted that would recognize marriage equality. They plan to submit to bill to parliament next year.

Taiwan is considered one of the most progressive countries in Asia when it comes to LGBT rights as it was was the first country in Asia to attempt to legalize gay marriage in 2003. The executive branch of the Republic of China proposed the legislation under the Human Rights Basic Law but several of the government’s officials opposed the measure and it was never voted on. Currently, the country does not recognize same-sex marriage.

According to a poll in 2006 taken by the National Union of Taiwan Women’s Association Constitutional Reform Alliance, 75 percent of the people surveyed said they support legalizing gay relationships, with 25 opposed.

Organizers of the pride event expected 50,000 people to attend, but according to Gay Star News about 65,000 participated, which is a large increase from 2009’s pride where 25,000 people attended. The website also points out just 500 supporters celebrated the country’s first Gay Pride event ten years ago.

"We think the right to marry is a basic human right," Chen Chia-yu, a Pride spokesperson, told the Taipei Times. "And whether or not a person actually wants to get married, marriage should be a basic right that all citizens have."

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