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Huge rally against gay discrimination in Taiwan

Agence France Presse - October 29, 2011

Around 50,000 people took to the streets of Taipei on Saturday to protest against discrimination in the wake of recent anti-gay incidents, organisers said.

"Discrimination get out," participants chanted while waving placards as they marched in downtown Taipei in an annual event which attracted people from Japan, Malaysia and South Korea.

Organisers said they hosted Asia's biggest gay pride parade in 2010 with 30,000 participants. They expected this year's turnout to reach around 50,000 while a police estimate was not immediately available.

"We have an even bigger crowd this year particularly after a number of incidents showing that discrimination against the gay community is still serious," said organiser Hiro Liu.

Among them was a much-publicised medical dispute involving five patients receiving organs from an HIV positive donor, who was homosexual, due to a hospital's mistake.

The incident led to some suggestions that homosexuals should be banned from donating blood and organs, which drew heated criticism from gay rights groups.

 "AIDS is an illness, not a crime but the society equates AIDS with homosexuals to discriminate and stigmatise gay people," Liu said.

Gay groups were also offended when a senior politician demanded opposition presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen to disclose her sexual orientation, as it will "affect her judgment call as a president," he said.

Compared with other Asian nations, Taiwan is becoming more open-minded towards homosexuality, although the acceptance is still much lower than the United State and Europe according to some surveys.

About 80 lesbian couples tied the knot in Taiwan's biggest same-sex "wedding party" in August, in the hope that the island will soon legalise gay marriage.

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