In the build-up to Saturday’s parade, organizers were buoyed by the news that twelve foreign representative offices announced that they would take part in the parade. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union said in a joint press release that they would take part in the parade to “celebrate respect, diversity and most of all, Taiwan’s open society.”
With Taiwan’s government coming under criticism from conservative religious groups of late, the show of support from so many foreign representative offices was an extremely welcome one. Taking their place in the parade on Saturday, the group of foreign dignitaries were impressed by the huge numbers in attendance. They noted that the large turnout showed just how open-minded and progressive the people of Taiwan are.
The 2016 parade drew a crowd of 80,000 and this year, organizers were expecting to top the 100,000 mark. Incredibly though, estimates put this year’s attendance at over 123,000 making it the largest Pride parade to have ever taken place in Asia.
Why is it so popular? Well, that high court ruling back in May has a lot to do with it, but it is the general public’s reaction to the decision that really made the difference. Of course, there are those who are opposed to any change that will allow same-sex union but generally speaking, the feeling across the nation was one of acceptance. To see this seemingly traditional and conservative country unfazed by the possibility of the introduction of same-sex marriage into their society says a lot about the people of Taiwan. It speaks such volumes of their tolerance and acceptance of others that its little wonder that the country is now seen as a leader in LGBT rights in Asia.
LGBT groups from over twenty countries were represented making this not just an Asian pride event but one with a real international flavor. And as usual, there was no holding back when it came to costumes with many attendees opting for the Bridal theme in recognition of the impending legalization of same-sex marriage.
There was a feeling of sheer excitement, joy and celebration at this year’s event, which is quite understandable given the high court ruling. However, some attendees expressed frustration that the government has yet to implement the required changes to the law. The parade took place almost six months after the ruling yet from a logistical and administrative perspective; very little change has taken place. Some even suggested that the opposition to the ruling from religious groups has resulted in the government dragging their heels.
Regardless of the lack of a solid time frame allowing those who wish to marry to make plans, the feeling of optimism among the Taiwanese LGBT community is hard to miss. Theirs is a nation that, although taking its time, is finally showing their community the support and equal rights that they fully deserve as citizens of Taiwan.
Such was the success of the parade; it’s difficult to imagine a bigger or better event than the 2017 edition. But when that law change finally takes effect, the subsequent Pride parade will take on such a celebratory air that it will no doubt dwarf this year’s event.