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TAIWAN - Nov 1, 2003

Taipei witnessed its very first gay pride march on Nov 1. Over 300 marchers, many in costume, came out in public to celebrate their freedom and show support for their government's progressive move to legalize same-sex unions.

The march commenced from the 228 Peace Park, a popular gay meeting spot made famous in the novel Crystal Boys, and moved to Taipei's entertainment district. Rainbow attire representing various segments of society, from the military to traditional ethnic costume, were in evidence.

Mayor Ma Ying Jeou proclaimed, "We loudly tell each of you gay friends, if you live in Taipei we will not commit any discrimination or harassment against you because of your sexual orientation."

Despite the generally conservative Chinese values of its society, Taiwan's government has been preparing a Human Rights Basic Law that would officially recognize gay and lesbian marriages. The law would give same-sex couples the protected rights of heterosexuals, including the ability to adopt children.

The office of the President released a statement saying, "The human rights of homosexuals have been gradually recognized by countries around the world. To protect their rights, people should have the right to wed and have a family." If passed, Taiwan will become the first Asian country to do so. The new law will be reviewed by Parliament before the end of the year.


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