Gay rights supporters marched through the streets of Taipei on Saturday afternoon to lobby for social acceptance of homosexuals and for their rights to adopt children.
The parade was one of the highlights of the 2003 Taipei Gay Festival, which is being supported and partially funded by the Taipei City Bureau of Civil Affairs.
Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou appeared at the end of the parade and told the crowd that he supported equal rights for gays, "This is the first such parade in Taipei, the first in Taiwan, even the first in the Chinese world."
"We must loudly tell each of you, gay friends, if you live in Taipei city, we will not commit any discrimination or harassment against you because of your sexual orientation," he said.
He added that he is willing to wish gay couples happiness if they want to get married as he witnessed two female rally hosts kissing each other on a stage near the theatre.
Not all the participants were as out though; some 20 percent of the marchers wore facemasks to keep their sexuality under wraps. According to The Taipei Times, Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline, a major homosexual help group which organised the parade, had advised participants concerned at being outed to disguise themselves.
Among the sea of rainbow flags, and flamboyant costumes, a group pushing baby carts highlighted their demand for the right to adopt children.
Although same-sex unions are not legal at present, the Taiwanese Government is currently proposing a bill to legitimise gay marriage.
If the new bill is passed, it will make Taiwan the first territory in Asia to recognise marriages between people of the same sex. The proposals are part of a Human Rights Basic Law, which is due to be debated by Taiwanese legislators before the end of the year.
Other gay pride parades in Asia include Tokyo Pride, which was first held in 1994 and sporadically ever since and Bangkok Pride Parade, which has been an annual event since 1999. At the first Lesbian and Gay Parade in South Korea held in June this year, some 600 marched around a park in Seoul.