Calls for marriage equality in Taiwan gay pride parade

Supporters of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community take part in the 14th annual LGBT Pride march in Taipei on Oct 29, 2016.
Supporters of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community take part in the 14th annual LGBT Pride march in Taipei on Oct 29, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

TAIPEI (AFP) - Tens of thousands of people packed Taipei's streets on Saturday (Oct 29) in Asia's biggest gay pride parade, wearing colourful costumes and carrying rainbow flags as they called on Taiwan's new government to legalise same-sex marriage.

Supporters waved handmade placards with slogans as they circled downtown Taipei.

Some took the opportunity to dress up, donning a variety of outfits including swimsuits, wedding dresses and loincloths usually worn by Japanese sumo wrestlers.

Many of the attendees were hopeful that same-sex marriage would soon become a reality under the pro-gay ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is in control of parliament for the first time.

"The call for marriage equality feels stronger than last year," said Corinne Chiang, who works in the information technology industry.

"We hope same-sex marriage can be realised as soon as possible so our child can have two legal moms," the 34-year-old said, referring to her family.

Taiwan is one of the region's most forward-thinking societies when it comes to gay rights, but progress on marriage equality has remained stagnant, because of resistance from the Kuomintang (KMT) party, which dominated politics for decades before being unseated by the DPP in May.

As a result, previous attempts to pass a same-sex marriage bill had stalled, but parliament is soon expected to deliberate fresh proposals on the issue.

President Tsai Ing-wen has also openly supported marriage equality and said she would respect any decision reached by parliament.

"Even though my role has changed, my values remain unchanged," she wrote on her official Facebook page Saturday.