Why, oh why can’t I?
Somewhere over the rainbow in Taiwan there was a huge celebration of LGBTQ rights on Saturday.
More than 100,000 people took to the streets of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, for the largest LGBTQ Pride march since the COVID-19 pandemic forced every major Pride event around the world to either cancel, or move into the Zoom universe.
As the self-ruled island of nearly 24 million marked 202 days without recording a single locally transmitted coronavirus infection, the LGBTQ community had a lot to celebrate.
Besides having one of the world’s most effective responses to the pandemic — only 555 recorded cases — Taiwan has also recently become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex unions, when lawmakers passed the historic legislation by a 66 to 27 vote in May 2019.
Earlier this week, on Friday, two female soldiers participated in the traditional Taiwanese army’s annual mass wedding ceremony, marrying their same-sex partners — another groundbreaking moment for Taiwan’s LGBTQ community.
“I feel that Taiwan has really set an example, to be able to have a normal life and also to continue with this Pride event even though the world is not able to come this year,” Eve Teo, a Taipei resident who attended the event with her partner, told NBC News.
Organizers said that turnout was down from previous years, which could possibly be related to international travel restrictions, enacted to control the spread of the virus.
Another attendee, Zoe Tsao, told The Associated Press that it is “great and very precious” that Taiwan is able to hold such a large event, “while the rest of the world is stuck in the pandemic.”
Kristy Tseng, who traveled to Taipei from the nearby city of Taoyuan to attend the celebration, told Nikkei Asia that she was “excited to see so many people out on the streets.”
Wearing a rainbow face mask, and walking behind an LGBTQ marching band, Tseng noted that “the rest of the world is affected by the pandemic, but because of our government’s efforts here we have a safe environment.”
The executive director of Taiwan Equality Campaign, Jennifer Lu, said that Taiwan’s fight against the virus is similar to the LGBTQ community’s decades-long fight for marriage equality.
“The motivation is different, but you can see that with one common goal, people in Taiwan are willing to devote their time and energy to the public interest,” she said. “I am very proud of our people, of our civil society.”
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