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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times Taiwan Pride more than a march

Taiwan Pride more than a march

Last Saturday, a large crowd, many waving rainbow flags and dressed in flamboyant costumes and clothing, marched through Taipei in a raucous celebration of LGBTQ+ equality and diversity in East Asia’s largest Pride march.

This year’s parade was aimed at “recognizing the diversity of every person, and respecting and accepting different gender identities,” said the Taiwan Rainbow Civil Association, the event’s organizer.

People might wonder why there is still a need to hold a march every year since Taiwan already became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019.

The reason is fairly simple: People are forgetful creatures. Any advancement or reform could easily backslide in a democratic society if left “unattended.”

A case in point is when the US Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states during former US president Barack Obama’s administration. People thought things were looking up for LGBTQ+ Americans, yet things took a dark turn when Donald Trump was elected US president. Trump introduced new policies unfriendly to LGBTQ+ people and reversed nearly every policy Obama had implemented.

To prevent such a relapse in Taiwan, the annual parade serves as a reminder that rights of equality and inclusion are hard-earned achievements.

After same-sex marriage between citizens became legal in Taiwan, society has taken a step further in understanding LGBTQ+ Taiwanese, yet there are still many aspects that leave much to be desired. For one, media outlets tend to vilify the costumes of people in the Pride parade. There are still stereotypes, false impressions and bias aimed at them, such as a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) city councilor blaming the declining birthrate on same-sex marriages or how LGBTQ+ people undermine or go against traditional cultural practices of filial piety.

The annual pride is held with the aim of reducing bigotry and stereotypes. What matters is that different groups “agree to disagree” after communication and find a way forward together instead of letting misunderstandings and ill will get in the way.

As the nation gears up for the Jan. 13 presidential and legislative elections, gender or sexuality-based attacks on candidates could also rise. Infamous examples include the KMT accusing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of being a “lesbian” or former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) calling on Tsai to clarify her sexual orientation.

So far, only a few non-heterosexual candidates have been elected as representatives, which shows how hard it is for LGBTQ+ people to participate in the current political environment. Political parties should encourage more LGBTQ+ candidates to participate in politics to promote gender equality, and offer an open platform for LGBTQ+ people and discussion of anti-bigotry issues.

It is worth mentioning that out of the four presidential candidates, only the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate, Vice President William Lai (賴清德), attended the parade. The other three candidates all gave reasons for their absence, but when it comes to politics, there is no such thing as “excuses,” there is only an endorsement or not.

Pride is more than just an event that celebrates diversity, respect and inclusion — it is also a representation of Taiwan’s openness and equality. The public cannot afford to forget that same-sex marriage is the achievement of people’s collective efforts, toil and daring. It is up to the public to make the right choice for the presidency next year so as to keep that invaluable right alive for the next four years.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2023/11/03

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