As tens of thousands were out on the streets of Taipei marching in Asia’s largest gay pride parade on Saturday, Taiwan’s presidential hopeful Tsai Ing-wen has come out in support of marriage equality.
In a 15-second video posted on her Facebook page, which has been shared more than 3,000 times, Tsai said, “In the face of love, everyone is equal.”
“Let everyone have the freedom to love and to pursue their happiness,” she added. “I am Tsai Ing-wen, and I support marriage equality.”
On Friday, the Democratic Progressive Party, which Tsai heads, lit up its election campaign headquarters in rainbow colours in support of the gay pride festivities happening this weekend.
Organisers of the 13th Taiwan LGBT Pride Parade, which ended on Ketagalan Boulevard just outside the Presidential Building, estimated that the event attracted a record turnout of 78,000 people, up from 65,000 last year.
Held on the sidelines of this year’s march — a gay film festival, a choral festival, and a conference by the Asia chapter of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association that saw 300 leading activists from around the continent converge in Taipei.
With less than 80 days to go before the presidential and legislative elections on January 16, Tsai, who is widely expected to become Taiwan’s first female president, stopped short of making a commitment to push through a bill to legalise same-sex marriage that has been stalled in parliament since it was raised in 2013.
While there were many in society who support marriage equality, there are others adopting a wait-and-see approach, Tsai said in response to questions from reporters at a press conference. “This is an issue that society as a whole must tackle together,” she added. “I hope that in the process, society will not be polarised and divided, and that we can all come together in a rational and understanding approach.”
Asked if she would be making an appearance at the gay pride parade, Tsai said her day’s itinerary was full. In the afternoon, Tsai headed to Miaoli and Hsinchu to stump for DPP’s legislative candidates before heading to Taichung for a book-signing event in the evening.
In a poll by Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice, close to 60 percent of respondents indicated that they approved of same-sex marriage. If activists succeed in overcoming opposition from a small but vocal, and highly influential, Christian minority, Taiwan will become first in Asia to legalise gay marriage.