Author: Marilyn

Taiwan’s LGBT community is turning a corner

Taiwan's LGBT community is turning a corner

120,000 parade at Taiwan Pride celebration despite rain

A man throws a toy at a group of people with a sign reading “Tear down this wall” during a protest against the new US$1.05 billion development of the Kaohsiung Port Zone in front of Taiwan’s Parliament in Taipei on June 22, 2013. (AP/Leah Nang)

It’s the latest in a string of such events this month, after a similar protest was organized in front of the White House by a U.S.-based LGBT advocacy group.

Last week’s rally in support of equal rights came a day ahead of a key Senate vote on a bill designed to prohibit the use of state-sponsored marriage discrimination to benefit same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriage has been legalized.

Taiwan’s LGBT rights group has also held a “kissin’ goodnight” ceremony at Taipei’s popular gay club and is holding protests at the island’s airports.

The group has said that such events are part of a pattern of harassment and intimidation of LGBT individuals by the government, media and businesses.

Earlier this month, a Chinese restaurant in southern Taiwan announced a ban on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers after a waitress complained that they were discriminating against the patrons.

“To many people in Taiwan this discrimination and hostility will be a turning point for Taiwan becoming more accepting of minorities in Asia,” said Michael Lai, who advocates for gay rights and is president of the Taiwan Gay Community Network.

“This is going to be a turning point for Taiwan’s society.”

Taiwan was a model of tolerance for homosexuals in the 1960s and 1970s, when many openly gay teenagers lived openly in Taipei and other cities.

But the government has turned increasingly hostile over the last two decades to the LGBT community.

The National Security Council and other agencies began investigating gay organizations in 1997 and 1998, with several companies including Nai-Yuan and Taiwan Semic

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