Just over two weeks ago, Taiwan Pride — the largest LGBT Pride festival in Asia — was celebrated in Taipei with approximately 65 000 attendees. Amongst those were smaller groups of supporters from more restrictive and conservative Asian countries like Japan and mainland China. While Taiwan does not recognise same-sex marriage, it’s progress in LGBT rights has seen the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation in employment and allows openly gay citizens to serve in the military as well. This year’s march was largely in support of a bill that has been in Parliament since last year that could legalise gay marriage, but has been stalled numerous times.
Taiwan’s progress in gay and lesbian rights is an inspiration to the rest of Asia, particularly at a time when countries like Brunei have reintroduced sharia law and the persecution of gays. Equally, Taiwan’s openness and public acceptance of homosexuality is a great example for the 18 US states that are yet to legalise gay marriage and recognise same-sex weddings. Early this week, a federal judge in Kansas declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. While he has put a hold on his own order so that the state has a chance to appeal, we hope that the spirit of gay pride and equality will prevail.