30,000 join Taiwan gay pride parade

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About 30,000 people participated in Taiwan's annual gay pride parade in Taipei Saturday afternoon and called on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to show their political power to demand more LGBT-friendly policies from governments.

Taiwan's gay pride.

Taiwan's gay pride.

They shouted slogans -- "We are proud to be gay," "We want to get married," and "Vote for LGBT policies" -- along the way.

Some onlookers bought rainbow flags for 50 New Taiwan dollars (about 1.63 U.S. dollars) each from volunteers, who said the money will be used to stage next year's parade.

The parade started at Kaidagelan Boulevard in west Taipei.

Apart from local people from various parts of the island, Saturday's parade, with the theme "Out & Vote," also drew supporters from Hong Kong, Japan, the Chinese mainland and South East Asian countries, according to the parade's organizer, the Taiwan LGBT Pride Community, a coalition of LGBT and other civil society organizations.

The event also attracted a record 126 social groups and shops hawking LGBT-themed goods, the organizers said.

After marching for about 4.6 kilometers along a route taking in many homosexual landmarks -- gay bars and a park where gays used to congregate -- the marchers returned to their starting point for a concert.

First held in 2003 with about 500 participants, the event has grown quickly. In 2009, 25,000 people participated, making it the largest gay-pride parade of the Chinese community across the world.

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