Taiwan holds LGBT pride parade ‘for the world’ as coronavirus pandemic shuts down overseas events
The Taiwanese capital has held its annual LGBT pride parade on Sunday, making it one of the few places in the world to proceed with such an event in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Taiwan has been praised for its efforts in controlling the spread of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic
- Along with Australia, Taiwan is one of the few countries in the Asia-Pacific region where same-sex marriage is legal
- 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first gay pride march in Chicago in 1970
The parade in Taipei has drawn tens of thousands of people in the past, but participant numbers on Sunday were reduced by both virus concerns and heavy rain.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency said more than 1,000 people attended.
Those who did take part said it was a testament both to Taiwan’s ability to contain the pandemic and its commitment to rights for people of all sexual orientations.
“I’m here to march for France,” Cookie, a French drag queen who has been living in Taiwan for the past six years, told AFP.
“Since the rest of the world cannot march or even go out, we have the opportunity to march for the rest of the world.”
Along with Australia, Taiwan is one of the few countries in the Asia-Pacific region where same-sex marriage is legal, and its liberal political system has long promoted human rights, free speech and freedom of assembly.
“Countries without same-sex marriage need to maintain the struggle — their day will eventually come,” Chi Chia-wei, who was arrested in 1986 for coming out as gay, told the New York Times.
“Here in Asia, we’re still waiting for the second country.”
Taiwan became Asia’s first country to legalise same-sex marriage in May 2019, and typically hosts one of the largest pride rallies in the region, attracting many people from countries where prohibitions on homosexuality remain.
Taiwan’s main pride march is usually held in October, however, organisers felt it was important to hold it in June in solidarity with people around the world unable to take to the streets — with the US celebrating pride month in June.
“Knowing that over 475 pride events around the world have been cancelled broke my heart,” event organiser Darien Chen told AFP.
American student Loren Couse said Taipei’s ability to hold the parade in 2020 was “really impressive”.
“I think Taiwan has done a really good job so far, and I am really proud of living here, not only because it’s so open to people like myself, the gay community, but also because I think it’s such an example for the world and how to handle the pandemic so far,” they said.
Taiwan has largely dropped such restrictions after quarantines and case tracing helped bring the coronavirus infection rate down radically.
In all, the island of 23.7 million people has confirmed 447 coronavirus cases, including seven deaths.
Pride goes mostly online in its 50th year
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first gay pride march in Chicago, but due to the COVID-19 lockdown, many physical pride marches have been cancelled.
The first pride march, on June 28, 1970, was a marker of the Stonewall uprisings of the year before in New York City’s West Village that helped propel a global LGBT rights movement.
The Stonewall riots were triggered by a police raid on June 28, 1969.
New York was among the cities compelled to cancel its official gay pride parade this year to comply with social-distancing measures, with performances going online.
Organisers of the New York event held a TV broadcast honouring health and other workers mobilised in the fight against COVID-19, as well as people and institutions of the LGBT community.
“The feeling doesn’t go away because of the coronavirus,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview with WABC-TV.
Gatherings of large groups of people are still barred in New York City as part of an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Nevertheless, many New Yorkers still took to the streets in solidarity with protesters demanding an end to racial injustice and police brutality.
The second annual Queer Liberation March capped off a month of pride events, virtual and live, during which the celebration of LGBT lives has merged with the nationwide demonstrations ignited by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
The historic Stonewall Inn, known as the birthplace of the gay rights movement, furloughed its employees and has been shuttered more than three months amid the pandemic.
But it announced on Sunday it will receive a US$250,000 contribution from the Gill Foundation, an LGBT charity — money that will go toward several months of rent and utilities.