Annual Pride Month celebrations that were scheduled to take place across the world in June 2020 have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, a Taiwanese activist has stepped up and is organising a pride walk on behalf of the world – the Taiwan Pride Parade For The World will be held in Taipei on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots on June 28, 2020.

Darien Chen, co-chair of the first Taiwan LGBT Pride march (today, Asia’s largest pride parade) in 2003 and the country’s representative to the Mr Gay World 2013 contest, is the brain behind the initiative.

The Coronavirus epidemic has resulted in over 475 Pride events across the world being cancelled or postponed, according to a report in The Washington Post. This includes historic pride marches in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the United States alone, over 20 million people attend pride marches.

With pride month celebrations moving online, Chen was concerned that LGBTQI communities were losing an opportunity to highlight issues of inequality and discrimination and also to “celebrate their heroes.” The fact that Taiwan has so far managed to successfully contain the pandemic in the country and big events were not banned was an opportunity to “honor the global gay family,” according to Chen.

Taiwan is one of the few countries in the world that never went into a lockdown during the ongoing pandemic. It has not had a local infection for over 64 days. Of the total 445 cases in the country, 354 were imported, 55 were local cases and 36 cases were of sailors who were part of the Goodwill fleet in the pacific. The latest cases were reported on June 15, when a married couple returned from Bangladesh and tested positive.

“Stand up for our beloved brothers and sisters all around the world who are still suffering from lockdowns and social distancing, or who cannot march for any reason,” says the announcement for the Taiwan Pride Parade For The World on Facebook.

 In an email to interview Star Observer, Chen revealed the plans for the grassroots initiative. The pride parade will be a short walk from the historic Liberty Square to National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in the heart of Taipei.

“We will give away 500 posters with one side depicting the Taiwanese Pride Flag and the other side for marchers to write down the country they are representing or marching for,” said Chen. “We will also give away ‘Made in Taiwan’ rainbow masks, to show support and raise awareness.”

WERK! Taiwan’s longest running gay party is planning to host a party for the world on June 20. During the march as well as the party, a campaign “Mars4Mask” will receive donations of masks that will be sent to LGBTQI centres around the world, said Chen. Plans are afoot to get a popular singer to sing at the end of the pride march.

While COVID-19 concerns have led to the cancelling of pride marches, Chen informs Star Observer that in Taiwan the government has announced that big events are “back to normal.”

“Taiwan has not had a local covid case for more than two months. Taiwanese people are still wearing surgical masks in crowded places, and obey the recommended hand washing and other rules,” said Chen.

The venue chosen for the pride walk is Liberty Square, where one does not require to obtain special permission to organise gatherings unless the government has scheduled an event in the area. “We only have to report to the designated police office, just a day before the event. We have, and that’s why we actually pushed back the pride march by one day because the government is using the space on June 27,” said Chen.

“We invite you to come and enjoy our freedom and equality, one year after being the first country in Asia to historically legalise same-sex marriage! We also look forward to having all of you again, at Taiwan Pride 2020 on October 31, 2020,” Chen signed off.

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