Taiwan is set to host what’s believed to be the largest queer event held so far this year.
As the pandemic continues to impact countries around the world at high numbers — including the United States with over 200,000 deaths — Taiwan's positive rates have been vastly contained, which makes large gatherings with minor restrictions much safer than elsewhere.
The event is held on the last Saturday of October every year. Last year, it attracted nearly 200,000 people but according to Taiwan News, organizers are expecting a fraction of that number due to the pandemic, travel concerns, and overall anxiety about large crowds.
Still, organizers confirm they're making sure that attendees remain socially distant and wear face masks.
The theme of the parade this year is “Beauty, My Own Way.” Organizer Fletcher Hong explained that it's all about understanding and respecting “each individual’s own identity” and dismantling the world’s strive for perfection and unrealistic beauty standards.
The parade will start from the Taipei City Hall Plaza. Participants have the option to take either the north or south routes going through Zhongziao East Road and Xinyi Road before circling back to city hall.
Taiwan, which has nearly 24 million citizens, has had only 515 cases and seven deaths related to the ongoing pandemic. Of that number, 484 have recovered, according to the latest data.
Taiwan has had a pandemic plan in place for years. CNBC reports that the plan included sophisticated approaches in quarantining, contact tracing, and making sure they have available masks and personal protection equipment for doctors and nurses.
Taiwan, which is a self-governing island, has been excluded from the World Health Organization given that China claims it as its province with no right to its own diplomatic representation on the global stage. Because of this, Taiwanese health officials were left out of receiving firsthand information on the outbreak. Still, thanks to preparation and stellar leadership, they were able to contain the virus.
This isn’t the first Pride celebration the country threw this year.
In June, organizers hosted a Pride parade in solidarity with the over 500 Pride events around the world that were cancelled because of the pandemic. Nearly 1,200 marched. Some attendees made clear they were marching on behalf of other countries.
Aurelien Jegou, known as Cookie the Drag Queen has lived in the country for seven years. She told Focus Taiwan that she was marching for France, saying, "Taiwan is one of the safest place to be right now and I feel very proud that I am here to be a part of this country.”
"I'm marching for New York, because that's the origin of the Stonewall uprising,” Chyi Jia-uei, a gay rights activist and honorary chairman of the Taiwan Gay Sports and Development Association, added. “I attended the parade there last year, but this year it has been canceled… As June is Pride month for the international gay community, and so many cities cannot hold events, the parade in Taiwan is especially meaningful because it signifies our solidarity.”
Taiwan is considered to be one of the most progressive countries in Asia in regards to LGBTQ+ rights, despite there still being no protections against discrimination in housing and for gay and bisexual men to donate blood, according to EqualDex.
In 2017, it became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage after President Tsai Ing-wen came out in favor of marriage equality during her 2015 campaign.