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Protesters demand marriage equality in Taiwan pride parade

Tens of thousands of people have marched through the Taiwanese capital in support of gay rights. Activists are calling on their new government to make Taiwan the first Asian country to legalize gay marriage.

More than 80,000 gay rights supporters decked out in colorful costumes and waving rainbow flags snaked through downtown Taipei on Saturday for Asia's biggest pride parade.

Members of Taiwan's LGBT community are hopeful same-sex marriage will soon become a reality under the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which won a historic parliamentary majority in January elections this year. 

"The call for marriage equality feels stronger than last year," 34-year-old demonstration attendee Corinne Chiang said. "We hope same-sex marriage can be realized as soon as possible so our child can have two legal moms."

Taiwan 14. jährliche LGBT Pride Parade (picture-alliance/dpa/R. B. Tongo)

Now in its 14th year, Taiwan's annual pride march is the largest in Asia

A new bill tabled by the DPP in parliament this week would legalize gay marriage and guarantee the right for homosexual couples to become legal parents. If enacted, the legislation would also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation in decisions on adoption. Lawmakers are expected to debate the proposal in the near future.

"We will welcome this reform, but it will not be the end as there remain many problems in the marriage system," Taiwan LGBT spokesman Hsiao Pai said.

Breakthrough bill?

Same-sex couples in some Taiwanese jurisdictions are currently able to register as partners, although the rights available to them are often limited compared to married heterosexual couples.

Previous attempts to pass a same-sex marriage bill have stalled largely owing to resistance from the Kuomintang (KMT) party, which dominated Taiwanese politics for decades before being unseated by the DPP in this year's landslide.

President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office in May, has openly backed gay marriage and said she will respect any decision reached by parliament.

"Even though my role has changed, my values remain unchanged," she wrote on her official Facebook page Saturday.

Polls show that a majority of the Taiwanese population supports same-sex marriage.

nm/sms (AFP, dpa)