Prague Pride through the eyes of a Taiwanese activist

Jennifer Lu shares her impressions of the LGBT situation in Europe and Asia

This year's Prague Pride had several visiting guests who participated in events throughout the week to discuss issues concerning LGBT community, such as the difference between tolerance and respect and the need for same-sex marriage.

Aside from being in one of the first cars in the annual Pride March, Taiwanese LGBT activist Jennifer Lu spoke at several events including Pride Voices and a panel on How to Win at Marriage, as well as the opening cocktail party at Liechtenstein Palace.

She met with Prague.TV to discuss the situation and Taiwan and her experiences here in the Czech Republic.

Jennifer Lu is the coordinator of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association and has been active in promoting marriage equality through the Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan.

She was in Prague for the first time for Pride Week, and was surprised by the city's historical beauty. She also found a lot of similarities between Taiwanese and Czech people, and said people in Prague were very friendly.

She was also very impressed by the Prague Pride. “I know this year is only the seventh year, but I can see a lot of different events going on. Participants are very passionate, and I feel people want to change society and communicate with society,” Lu said. Highlighting the high-quality organization of the festival and a high involvement of volunteers, she felt hopeful for the future in Czech Republic.

Looking back at the Taiwan's seventh Pride Parade, Jennifer admitted it was not that well organized as the parade in Prague. Pride parades have been held in Taiwan since 2003.

Right now, Taiwan has the biggest pride parade in Asia, and the Taiwanese people understand more and more about the LGBT community. “I can see that the social atmosphere has changed a lot, especially in these last two years because of the marriage equality campaign,” Lu said. “I can see the same situation here [in Prague]. Although the marriage equality campaign has just started here, the team is really organized,” she said.

The Constitutional Court in Taiwan ruled in May that laws preventing same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. The legislature has to change the law within two years.

Lu was a little surprised by the Taiwanese court decision, as she did not expect it to even mention the date when this opportunity will be possible. “In Taiwan we did not have a partnership law before, so we started with little changes in the system, and then jumped to marriage equality,” Lu said. According to her, Taiwan did not have a long journey like the other countries, and the result was unexpected, however, very appreciated.

Lu hopes that other Asian countries will join Taiwan and follow its lead. Taiwan is a pioneer in this issue for many reasons. The country's democratic system is quite stable, and Taiwan changed its ruling party last year; the new ruling party is more progressive and has more young members. Another important aspect is that Taiwan has a very progressive policy toward women, which is proven by Taiwan having its first female president right now, Tsai Ing-wen. So, gender equality policy is very developed, and Taiwan is the first Asian country to pass a domestic violence prevention law. Lu is hopeful that other countries in Asia will follow Taiwan's experience.

“Tolerance is not respect” was the theme of Prague Pride this year, which Lu found very interesting. “I think tolerance does not have a balanced power relationship, because you still have up and down, where the mainstream society has a higher status, compared to the LGBT community. But respect is more about being equal,” Lu explained. She thinks that the topic of the Prague Festival this year is a very good choice, as it explains the main goal of the whole concept.

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