Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Promoting gay rights helps Taiwan

Participants at the LGBT parade on Saturday
There are no better placed people to combat discrimination than those who have been the victims of discrimination for decades 

On Saturday afternoon, a multicolored assemblage of about 50,000 people from 20 countries gathered in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei to support calls for the government to recognize — and just as importantly, legalize — same-sex unions. 

For a relatively conservative Asian society, the turnout for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Pride parade, which was celebrating its first decade, was more than respectable. The fact that the parade took part in an open-minded, orderly and welcoming atmosphere was just as important. There were none of the hateful protesters and religious zealots who all too often turn up at similar parades in the US, or in Russia, where non-heterosexuals are often physically assaulted by extremists.

Well-known artists also turned up
Passers-by looked on with curiosity, ice cream vendors had a field day, petitions were signed and participants, from the scantily clad to the gaudily plumed, had a blast having their pictures taken while supporting an important social cause.

That such progressiveness could take root within a traditional society is testament to the social progress that has occurred in Taiwan. This is an example to other societies, including that across the Taiwan Strait, where difference is treated as a malady rather than something to celebrate. 

That is not to say that discrimination does not occur in Taiwan. Despite the openness that characterized Saturday’s event, homosexuals continue to live under the shadow of intolerance, both in society at large and, even more devastatingly, within their own families. This often forces them to live a lie or to clip their wings, as it were. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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