Taiwan holds first Pride celebration in two years as COVID-19 restrictions finally relaxed

Taiwan holds first LGBTQ+ Pride parade in two years as country relaxes Covid-19 restrictions

Taiwan has held its first LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations in two years as the country relaxed its strict COVID-19 restrictions.

Around 120,000 people are estimated to have taken part in the Pride march, despite the rainy weather, making the event the biggest LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in east Asia, according to Reuters.

Revellers took to the streets of capital city Taipei with a giant Pride flag, while multiple huge floats carrying dancers and drag queens also rode through the city, all in the pouring rain.

The march on Saturday (29 October) was the 20th parade since Pride began in the country.

President Tsai Ing-wen showed support for those celebrating, writing on Facebook that 20 years ago, people could not have imagined Taiwan would be leading the way in legalising same-sex marriage in Asia.

“Now, being able to choose marriage is something that most people find commonplace,” she wrote.
With Taiwan boasting fewer than 600 COVID-19 infections from the beginning of the pandemic to October 2020, Taipei threw a colourful in-person Pride parade on Halloween that year, drawing 130,000 people.

Since then, however, the latest data shows the country has seen more than seven million cases and 12,800 deaths due to COVID-19, meaning another Pride parade was impossible until now.

LGBTQ+ activists take part in the Pride Parade in Taipei, Taiwan on 29 October 2022

LGBTQ+ activists take part in the Pride parade in Taipei, Taiwan on 29 October, 2022. (Jameson Wu/AFP via Getty Images)

Social media users also delighted in the Pride weekend celebrations, with a performance from drag queen Kimmy Mesula dancing to a tune played by bin collection vans, proving popular on Twitter.

“Nothing says it’s Pride weekend in Taipei more than a drag queen death dropping to a club remix of Taiwan’s bin collection song,” James Chater, a journalist for Taiwan Plus News, said.

One Twitter user commented: “Just one of many reasons why Taiwan is magical. Happy Pride, Taipei!”

“We don’t even get a bin collection song in Britain but in Taiwan it gets a club remix,” a rather envious social media user added.

Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, with nearly 3,000 queer marriages taking place in the first year of legalisation, from 2019 to 2020.

In the three years since, Taiwan is still the only Asian country in which same-sex marriage is legal.

Despite progress, however, some LGBTQ+ couples have argued the law is not perfect, with Taiwan still not allowing same-sex marriages with partners from a country that does not recognise same-sex marriage – meaning a queer Taiwanese national could not marry a Japanese partner in the country.

There have been some exceptions who have won legal cases to marry on a case-by-case basis, however it is not universal, leading to a protest on Valentine’s Day this year calling to close the legal loophole on LGBTQ+ marriage.

Speaking to AFP at the protest, Taiwanese resident Joyce Chan said she is not yet allowed to marry her partner, Queenie Oyong, who is originally from the Phillipines and staying in Taiwan on a student visa.

“We don’t just want to be each other’s Valentines – we want to become a real family,” Oyong told the outlet in February.

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