As the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, Taiwan is known for its progressive LGBTQ+ values.
Did you know that Taiwan is the only jurisdiction in Asia – and the Chinese-speaking world, as a matter of fact – to legalise homosexual matrimony?
There’s various other pieces of legislature that prove the country’s unwavering commitment towards LGBTQ+ equality, such as abandoning gender reassignment surgery for trans individuals and recognising transnational gay couples with spouses from countries that do not recognise same-sex marriage.
As a result of groundbreaking legislation such as this – and its iconic annual LGBT+ Pride event – Taiwan is often described as the most LGBTQ+ friendly country in Asia.
A staple for the queer community, Taiwan’s LGBT+ Pride started in 2003 and initially attracted just 700 participants in central Taipei. Due to the time’s social and political constraints, a majority of Pride-goers wore face masks to avoid stigmatisation and discrimination.
Twelve years later, Taiwan LGBT+ Pride was attended by 80,000 participants, becoming the second-largest Pride in Asia behind Israel’s legendary Tel Aviv Pride. It’s only gone from strength-to-strength with the 20th anniversary attracting – take this in for a second – over 120,000 people.
The event, which aimed to reverse existing social structures and “liberate” those suffering from gender oppression, reflected on the past 20 years of progress whilst celebrating the country’s LGBTQ+ scene, with drag queens hosting the iconic double-decker rainbow bus to visit notable LGBTQ+ spots.
It’s impossible to summarise just how crucial this event is for the Taiwanese queer community; for many, it’s a place for them to live authentically while also reflecting and campaigning for the future of LGBTQ+ rights in the country – and across the world.
Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city, is also celebrated for its LGBTQ+ nightlife and impassioned drag community. The city is home to some of Taiwan – and Asia’s – most famous gay bars, from the ‘hot and swanky’ Abrazo Bistro to one of their “landmark” nightclubs Cercle Club Taipei, and the S&M stylings of Commander D.
Of course, there’s Café Dalida, a botanical-themed bar that is known for launching the careers of countless drag queens in the country and for hosting Drag Race viewing parties. Mature queer crowds should head to Hero, whereas lesbians will enjoy the cosy stylings of Taboo, a well-established club that has been serving queer females for over 20 years.
Additional destinations for LGBTQ+ people include Bacio Taipei, Fairy Taipei, G Star and Hunt. There’s plenty of daytime activities too, with queer cafés such as Love Boat, Vixen’s Café, Sugarman, Tokyobike Taiwan, Maple Maple Cafe and The Jen Library.
The latter brings us to LGBTQ+ readers: Gin Gin is the first-ever gay bookshop in Taiwan and the first LGBTQ+ bookstore in the Chinese-speaking world. Found in a small alley in the centre of Taipei, Gin Gin sells books, magazines, clothes and sex toys. What more could you want, really?
For more historical context, 228 Peace Memorial Park is widely regarded as one of Taiwan’s most famous gay spots. Before social media and hook-up apps were a thing, this park was used as a cruising ground for gay men. It memorably served as inspiration for Crystal Boys, Taiwan’s first-ever gay novel, which was later adapted into the acclaimed 2018 drama The Outsiders.
For more information on LGBTQ+ destinations and LGBTQ+ culture in Taiwan, visit this ultimate guide map.