With COVID in Check, Taiwan Celebrates Pride

People gather during Asia’s biggest pride parade in Taipei
Revelers donned Rainbow masks to mark Taiwan’s annual Pride event.
Reuters/ Ann Wang

An estimated crowd of at least 100,000 people participated in Taiwan’s annual Pride celebration in Taipei on October 31, marking one of the only large-scale Pride events on the globe during the coronavirus era.

The festivities were made possible by the low rate of COVID-19 transmission in Taiwan, where just 554 confirmed cases and seven deaths have been reported after the nation locked down its borders. Marchers launched the annual Pride event at Taipei City Hall and proceeded along two routes with large Rainbow Flags and floats, according to Nikkei Asia.

Queer community turns out big one year after achieving marriage equality

The LGBTQ community in Taipei also turned out for a Pride march in June when organizers sought to hold a large demonstration in an effort to pay tribute to LGBTQ communities around the world that were unable to hold such events during Pride month. However, reports indicated that the June event only drew hundreds of individuals.

The latest march came more than a year after Taiwan legalized marriage for same-sex couples after a years-long slog that saw an international wave of religious conservatives flood the nation with fierce opposition to the marriage movement.

A drag artist gestures to a crowd of roughly 100,000 individuals in attendance.Reuters/ Ann Wang

Religious conservatives have remained influential in Taiwan, and the October 31 Pride festivities yet again drew scorn from the Christian right. An annual event in Taiwan known as the National Prayer Breakfast, which is produced by Christian church groups of different denominations, was canceled when a controversy erupted in response to President Tsai Ing-wen’s Facebook post praising the Pride festivities.

Organizers of the prayer event, citing their opposition to marriage equality and their pique over Tsai’s support for Pride , then asked the president’s office to send an envoy to the annual breakfast in place of herself. The prayer event was subsequently canceled after the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, which is on the event’s preparatory committee, said there was no point in holding an event without the president in attendance, according to Focus Taiwan.

Tsai was a critical voice in support of marriage equality and championed the issue throughout the turbulent period after Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled in 2017 that lawmakers must pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage within two years. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party ultimately voted in favor of the bill last year that brought same-sex marriage to Taiwan.

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