Gays in Taiwan make progress toward equality

The China Post news staff

This coming weekend, Taiwan will hold a government-funded gay carnival and then next Saturday, Oct. 13, Asia’s largest gay pride march will hit the streets of Taipei City. The Honglou Theater in downtown Taipei will be the venue for the carnival under the theme “How to Watch a Gay Film.”

“We want the public to watch gay films in a relaxed atmosphere so that they can understand gay-related issues,” said Jason Yeh, a city official at a news conference.

Twelve Taiwan-produced, made and foreign gay films are to be shown. The gay carnival, now in its 8th year, will be followed by the Gay Pride March, now the largest in Asia according to the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline (Tongzhi, or ‘comrade,’ is a common euphemism for homosexuals in China, Taiwan and other parts of Asia).

Over 10,000 people — both gay and straight — are expected to join in the march through some of Taipei’s busiest streets. Gay-rights activists from Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong are scheduled to fly to Taipei to participate.

The first Taiwan gay pride parade was held on Nov. 1, 2003, and was the first such homosexual self-expression event held in the greater Chinese community, which encouraged the gay-lesbian-bi-sexual-transgender community in Hong Kong to hold their own parade. Many people in Taiwan may not have even noticed the first small rights march, but since 2003, the event has picked up support and some prominent backers. At last year’s march, then-Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou spoke about the importance of tolerance, while KMT City Councilor Lin Yi-hua and People First Party City Councilor Dai Hsi-chin joined the crowd in a “rainbow wave” dance.