Thousands in Taiwan march for same-sex marriage
By Lin Yang (dpa (MCT))
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Thousands of people took to Taipei's streets Saturday to advocate for same-sex marriage, directing their frustration at politicians who have blocked the issue from a legislature vote.
Anthony Wong, a Hong Kong singer who announced he was gay during a concert in April, launched Asia's largest gay pride parade from a stage with a few Cantonese love songs.
Organizers said they set a new record of 65,000 demonstrators. The crowd marched from the presidential palace past the island territory's legislature and executive branch offices. Along the way, they chanted "Who wants marriage? We want marriage!"
Saturday's parade marked the 10th year in which Taiwanese have protested for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. Although a few came in flamboyant costumes, the overall flair on display was noticeably more subdued than in previous years.
The intention was to make the event less alienating for the general public to build support for same-sex marriage, organizers told dpa.
"Our goal is let people know that members of the LGBT community are standing right next to you," said Chen Jia-yu, one of the main organizers.
"They could be your friends or your family members. Their suffering, in not being able to express their love, affects everybody. Our goal is make non-gay folks realize this."
This was also the message of a media campaign launched on YouTube a month earlier, highlighting the seemingly everyday nature of marriage proposals and expressions of love among same-sex partners.
"The videos were shot with communication to the general masses in mind," said Jay Lin, chief executive of Portico Media and producer of the YouTube campaign.
"They create a different visual compared to the drag queens and half-naked guys that local media usually shows from parade footage."
Taiwan's pride parade has grown to become Asia's largest because the island territory embraces a higher level of political freedom and social tolerance than many neighboring countries.
But the local political establishment remains conservative, and legislators blocked a floor vote on a same-sex marriage bill when it was last introduced in 2006.
Both candidates in January's presidential election promised they would not institute same-sex marriage unless society reaches a consensus to support it.
However, in a sign that positions could be shifting, the chairman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, Su Tseng-Chang, openly endorsed same-sex marriage on his Facebook page Friday.
"As Lady Gaga said in her song 'Born This Way,' homosexuality is completely natural," he wrote.
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