Thousands March in Taiwan’s Pride Parade With Outbreak Contained

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Taiwan held its annual pride parade on Saturday, as tens of thousands of people gathered for the world’s largest such event since the pandemic began.

Revelers -- most without masks -- marched in the capital, highlighting Taiwan’s status as one of Asia’s most LGBT-friendly places, as well as its success in containing the coronavirus outbreak to allow such a gathering to proceed.

A ban on foreign tourists has helped Taiwan achieve an enviable milestone of going more than 200 days without a local Covid-19 transmission, making the Taipei Pride 2020 parade much more Taiwanese than previous editions. Last year’s event, which organizers said was attended by 200,000 people, drew visitors from Japan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

“I hope after the pandemic is over, people can come back to Taiwan and join us for Taipei Pride,” said Hsu Hui-Qing, 24, who was wearing a rainbow flag as a cape, and visited from the nearby city of Taoyuan. “I hope every country can get things under control soon.”

While Pride month globally is in June, Taiwan holds Pride events in late October to avoid typhoon season, and because of its proximity to Halloween. This year, a much smaller parade was held on June 28 to show solidarity for other events around the world, which largely had been canceled or moved online.

Taiwan’s LGBT community is an increasingly sought-after market. This year’s parade featured rainbow floats advertising Red Bull, Sony and The Gap.

Helped by its success in limiting the Covid-19 spread, Taiwan’s economy rebounded in the third quarter, growing 3.3% from a year ago. Parade-goers queued for beers, iced tea and other drinks at convenience stores and shops along the way, with late-night parties planned at bars and clubs in the Ximending neighborhood and elsewhere.

“Daily life in Taiwan has barely been affected,” said Taipei resident Wilbert Huang, 30, who had stopped to take a break from the parade to drink local beers with friends. “It feels like we’re living in a parallel universe.”

“Businesses that once relied on international visitors have survived by pivoting to the domestic market, which is now booming because nobody’s traveling abroad,” Huang said.

Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, the first in Asia to do so. On Friday, two lesbian couples tied the knot in a annual mass wedding hosted by Taiwan’s military.

Taiwan’s LGBT community is still seeking adoption rights and recognition of transnational couples. Some parade participants said they want to see even greater recognition and respect for the LGBT community.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, and that’s great,” Hsu said. “But I hope one day LGBT in Taiwan can be treated like anyone else.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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