In the midst of the global Coronavirus pandemic, Taipei became one of the few cities in the world to hold a pride parade during international pride month. On Sunday, around 200 people gathered at Liberty Square in the heart of the city for the Taiwan Pride Parade For The World.

Adam Dedman, a PhD candidate from the  University of Melbourne, who is in Taipei for a year on a research project, turned up at the march in solidarity with LGBTQI communities around the world who could not do so due to the lockdown restrictions.

“Seeing hundreds of people, both Taiwanese and a diverse group of people from other countries, show up and brave the rain and heat to march was very inspirational… and lots of fun!” said Dedman. “In an age of a recession and expanding authoritarian governance, I also think it’s so important to help raise global visibility about Taiwan’s public health successes and progress on human rights and democracy, despite being repeatedly marginalised by the WHO, the UN, and the Chinese Communist Party.”

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 Cookie aka Aurelien Jegou, a French drag queen living in Taiwan for around seven years, said she walked the pride for her home country France. “Last year we were celebrating marriage equality in Taiwan… Sunday was an occasion to show solidarity as a community to the rest of the world, where so many minorities are still oppressed, and cannot march because of Covid-19.”

Drag queen Magnolia La Manga who hails from the UK said she marched for  murdered Chechnyan singer Zelim Bakaev and Reading terror attack victims Joe Ritchie-Bennett, David Wails and James Furlong.

“I wanted to make sure that people saw their names… For those of us in the west and in Taiwan it is important not to forgot how privileged we are as gay people, and to take some time to remember that life is pretty bad for a lot of LGBTQI people around the globe. Remaining visible and being a beacon for others who are less fortunate is a crucial part of our responsibilities as LBGTQI people who are lucky.”

The brain behind the special gay pride parade was Darien Chen, co-chair of the first Taiwan LGBT Pride march in 2003. The march was a way to “honor the global gay family,” Chen had told Star Observer before the event.

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 The Coronavirus epidemic had resulted in over 475 Pride events across the world being cancelled or postponed. The pride walk was made possible by the fact that Taiwan was one of the few countries that had not gone into lockdown and had managed to keep the COVID-19 infections low, with 447 cases and 7 deaths in the country.

The annual Taipei Pride march – the largest in Asia – is scheduled for October 31, 2020 and the organisers hope that over 200,000 participants will be able to participate like last year.

According to Dedman, who has lived in different Asian countries for the past two decades, Taiwan is one of the most LGBTQI friendly countries in the region. Taiwan legalised gay marriages in 2019, the first Asian country to do so.

“Taiwan is a beacon of hope for sexual minorities in the region, but rarely gets the credit it deserves. Perceptions of Taiwan as an LGBTQI-friendly country have grown steadily since the first Pride Parade was held here in 2003. In large part this is thanks to Taiwan’s hard-won freedoms and its civil society that has aggressively fought for greater equality and the expansion of human rights protections.”

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