Gay parade calls for end to discrimination

Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) More than 50,000 people shouted "LGBT fight back! Discrimination get out!" to voice their support for gay and lesbian rights at a parade in Taipei Saturday, one of the largest of its kind in Asia. Members of over 100 student, human rights, and gay and lesbian groups marched and chanted the parade's slogan "Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people fight back! Discrimination get out!" to call for an end to gender and sexuality discrimination. Colorful flags, expressive signs and people dressed in fanciful costumes dominated the streets as the annual carnival event kicked off. The groups were divided into seven teams to represent the seven colors of a rainbow, a symbol of diversity and acceptance in the LGBT community. "We are not monsters or troublemakers. We are beautiful rainbows," chanted gay and lesbian protesters. J.J. Lai, convener-in-chief of the parade, said that while previous parades did not use such direct and strong language, the LGBT community was "really getting angry" this year. He said several recent incidents indicated that discrimination was still prevalent in Taiwan, including the questioning by a former politician of the sexual orientation of opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen. He also criticized a self-proclaimed parents group for preventing the release of teaching materials that would educate elementary and junior high school students on gender equality and gay issues, and a local commercial district for driving a gay health and cultural center out of the area. "We cannot be silent anymore. We have to express our anger," Lai said. Chen Hui-yuan, president of National Tsing Hua University's student association, said that his group participated in the parade because it cared about how the next generation is educated on gay issues and to support gay and lesbian students at his university. "We want to let them know that they are not alone," Chen said. Chen Liang-fu, a member of National Taiwan University's student association, said he thought taking to the streets was the most direct way to show support for gay and lesbian people, whose rights he said should be respected and protected. Google Inc., the only company to join the parade this year, grabbed attention with a dancing Android robot, which it said was an "open" platform that symbolized Google's open culture. Andy Cheng, a Google engineer, said his company participated this year because the spirit of the parade to promote diversity coincided with Google's respect of diversity. "We want to tell people that being yourself is the right thing to do," Cheng said. It was the ninth consecutive year the parade was held in Taipei. (By Christie Chen)