Asian News Reports on Gay Parades in Asia
As Seattle’s Pride parade draws to a close, one group is already planning next year. Pride ASIA co-founder Manila Sisasavong says she started the event because LGBTQ Asian American and Pacific Islander people didn’t feel represented by Seattle’s main festivities.
A frontrunner for Thailand’s next prime minister joined a Pride parade, promising to legalize same-sex marriage if he becomes premier. He’s one of several political figures joining events around Asia.
One of Asia’s largest gay parades puts on display every year the vibrancy and fervor of Taiwan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. It’s a proud display of the island’s openness, especially in contrast with giant neighbor China, which views the self-ruling democracy as its own territory and frowns on any suggestion of homosexuality.
Hundreds of people gathered on Sunday for the march, which flies a giant rainbow flag across Liberty Square in central Taipei. Organiser Darien Chen said it was a sign of “Taiwan’s solidarity” with the world as well as an opportunity to celebrate the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.
Although the crowd was smaller than usual, it included many foreigners. One reason is that, unlike in many other cities, the parade starts and ends within steps of two metro stations: Taipei City Hall on the blue line and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on the green line. This convenience makes it a convenient destination even for visitors from countries where LGBTQ rights are still a battleground. The event is also backed by sponsors such as Aussiebum, an Australian men’s swimwear brand.
Thousands of LGBTQ people and their allies filled the streets of Thailand’s capital Sunday for its second official Pride parade. The event was held to mark gay pride month and promote gender equality in the country, which is seen as an LGBTQ paradise by many.
While marriage equality and other forms of LGBT rights have been achieved in recent years, activists say more needs to be done. This year’s Bangkok Pride was themed “Beyond Gender”, aiming to raise awareness about the issues faced by sex workers and others.
One of the frontrunners to be Thailand’s next prime minister, Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, joined this year’s parade and vowed to pass a law on same-sex marriage if elected. Other politicians, including Pheu Thai’s Paetongtarn Shinawatra and Chonlanan Srikaew, also attended the march.
The organizers of this year’s parade also highlighted Thailand’s preparation for hosting World Pride 2028. However, they warned that Thailand needs to pass laws promoting equality and marriage recognition to qualify for the global celebration. The parade was divided into six sections, representing the six colors of the rainbow flag.
Vietnam has made progress on recognizing LGBT rights but remains a largely conservative nation. Homosexuality is taboo, although same-sex relationships are now legal and a ban on same-sex marriage has been lifted. Gays are beginning to find their place in Vietnamese society, with some appearing in mainstream films and TV shows.
But for many, homosexuality is still a deeply personal and private affair. Even with increasing visibility, most Vietnamese are still reluctant to tell their families they are gay. Nevertheless, they are increasingly finding their voice and becoming active participants in the country’s gay activism.
The first large gay pride parade in the country took place in Hanoi this year, though it wasn’t an overtly political event. Many of the activists participating in the event were young, and their youthful energy energized the event. Their sense of urgency and their awareness of the power of global movements is helping drive Vietnam’s LGBT movement forward. The movement has been boosted by the news that the government may amend the law to allow same-sex marriage, which would be the first in Asia to do so.
A rainbow of flags fluttering in the wind highlighted the Tokyo Pride parade on Sunday, as Japan faces pressure to join advanced nations in recognizing gay marriage. The country will host the G7 summit next month and business lobbies say greater diversity is needed for international competitiveness.
The organizers of the Tokyo Pride parade are urging companies to sponsor the event and join in promoting tolerance and inclusive society, including for LGBT people. Several firms are already on board, including Deloitte Tohmatsu Group (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo/Group CEO: Takashi Nagata), which is a silver sponsor and setting up a booth at Yoyogi Park in collaboration with certified NPO ReBit.
The firm, which aims for a society where all children can grow up as their true selves, will provide various insights on how to empower LGBT+ initiatives at work and more. It will also collect messages from participants on the theme #ConnectForTheNext, a message board that will be turned into donations based on the number of messages, as part of its support for the parade. A similar message board was used at the 2017 event.
Tens of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets for their annual Pride parade on Saturday, braving a heavy backlash from conservative groups who had tried to block the march. But the event was marred by a clash between organizers and demonstrators at the site where the parade was held, in Seoul’s central Seoul Plaza. The city government had granted the plaza to a Christian-based group planning a concert, saying requests for venues should be prioritized for events aimed at children’s well-being or those with other benefits to society.
The controversy highlighted the ongoing tensions between gay rights activists and their conservative, often Christian critics in South Korea, one of the few OECD countries without comprehensive anti-discrimination laws. Churchgoers often launch social media campaigns supporting traditional marriage and citing the country’s low birth rate as a reason to oppose same-sex couples.
Unlike Tokyo and Hong Kong, which have many corporate supporters of Pride and LGBTQ causes, few major companies in South Korea offer such support. Local businesses appear cautious to irk conservatives, while international corporations are wary of being associated with the controversial cause.