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Taiwan Pride celebrates marriage vote

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Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei for the first pride parade since Taiwan legalised gay marriage — the first place in Asia to do so. Since the landmark decision in May, more than 2,000 LGBT couples have married. “I am very excited because it’s the first pride parade after same-sex marriages are recognised and I got married,” Shane Lin told The Guardian. Amid a swirl of rainbow flags, Henry Wu said: “Taiwan made huge progress in legalising same-sex marriages . . . I feel very proud we are the first in Asia to do so.”

In a gesture of solidarity, LGBT activists from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Japan, among others, attended the pride parade — the largest ever held in Asia — to meet with the Taiwanese organisers who believe the nation can be a beacon of hope for others. Since the historic vote, Taiwan’s legislation has been cast as a rebuke of the well-worn argument that LGBT rights are incompatible with Asian culture. Speaking to SupChina, activist Jay Lin was optimistic that other Asian countries will soon follow Taiwan’s lead: “The light at the end of the tunnel is not all bleak and dreary. Many people are realising the values we’re espousing can be embraced and can be a part of Asian cultural values.”

President Tsai Ing-wen of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party showed her support for the same-sex marriage celebrations by posting an image of the pride march on her Facebook page. She accompanied the photo with a caption that read: “Our original families continue to be happy, our original marriages continue to be wonderful, and our original religious beliefs continue to be free — the only difference is that more people can enjoy happiness."

However, whilst the marriage vote gave revellers plenty of reason to celebrate, the legislation falls short of offering complete LGBT equality. For instance, the Bill omits full provisions for transnational marriages: foreigners in Taiwan can only marry their same-sex partner if the country they’re from recognises gay marriage. “What would be really nice is if [Taiwan] recognised gay marriage from anywhere,” gay activist Chi Wei Cheng told the South China Morning Post.

While not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade, Cheng urged the Taiwanese government, businesses and society to do more to help the island's LGBT community, saying there was still much work to be done in other areas also, such as same-sex adoption rights and equality in the workplace and in schools. Until these rights are secured, Cheng and other activists would, he said, “continue to stand out and fight against these conservative values”.

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