The Taiwanese gay community celebrated the highlight of the 2008 Taipei Gay Carnival with a Pride parade on Saturday.

There were 18,000 participants, making it the largest gay event in Asia.

Compared to its Asian neighbours Taiwan has a more positive stance towards the gay community, and has previously discussed introducing same-sex unions.

Wang Ping, organiser of the march, said:

“I saw some very young people taking part.

“This shows that more and more homosexuals are daring to stand out and be themselves. But we hope this ‘dare to be oneself’ can turn into participation in the gay rights movements.”

The gay scene in Taiwan has blossomed since the first pride parade in 2002, which attracted only 1,000 marchers.

There are now gay cafes and bookshops.

But while tolerance has grown, equality laws still lag behind, especially regarding the right to marry.

In 2003, Taiwan became the first Asian country to announce its intention to legalise same-sex marriage, but there has been no legislative action , despite pressure from gay rights activists.