Metro Weekly

WorldPride Taiwan 2025 Canceled Over Name Dispute

Cancellation raises questions about whether D.C. would be considered as a replacement host city for the global Pride event.

WorldPride 2017 parade in Madrid – Photo: Malopez 21, via Wikimedia

The WorldPride 2025 Taiwan Preparation Committee withdrew from hosting the biennial global Pride event scheduled to take place in Kaohsiung City due, in part, to a dispute with global organizer InterPride over the name of the event.

The committee, comprised of members from the organizations Taiwan Pride and Kaohsiung Pride, balked at InterPride’s insistence that the event be named “WorldPride Kaohsiung 2025,” reports Global Voices.

Organizers posted to Facebook that the preparation committee was unable to reach an agreement with InterPride, arguing that there were “major discrepancies between our stances on the event’s naming, understandings of Taiwan’s culture, and expectations of what a WorldPride event should look like.”

“In the back-and-forth discussions, InterPride repetitively raised their concerns and doubts about whether Taiwan has the capacity, economic and otherwise, to host an international event like WorldPride,” the committee wrote in a Facebook post.

“This is despite our team consisting of highly competent Pride organizers who have successfully organized some of the largest Pride events in Asia. Although we have presented past data and relevant statistics to prove our track record, we were still unable to convince InterPride. However hard we have tried to cooperate, our efforts did not result in an equal and trusting working partnership with the event licensor.

“The final straw that led the negotiation to a deadlock was the abrupt notice from InterPride, requiring the name of the event to change from ‘WorldPride Taiwan 2025’ to ‘WorldPride Kaohsiung 2025.’ This is despite the fact that the name ‘WorldPride Taiwan 2025’ was used throughout the entire bidding process: from the bid application and the bid proposal evaluation to the voting process and the winner announcement back in 2021,” the post continued.

But InterPride, the umbrella organization for more than 300 international Pride organizations across 60 countries, responded on Twitter that it was “surprised” by the decision to withdraw from the event, noting that there is a “long-standing tradition” of using the host city’s name for WorldPride celebrations, which are intended to promote LGBTQ issues and visibility through parades, festivals, and other cultural activities, such as a human rights conference held in the host city.

The situation in Taiwan is trickier than normal, because Taiwan is neither a city nor a member of the United Nations. The island, to which Chinese nationalists were exiled after losing to the Communists in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, is viewed by the Chinese government as part of China.

As such, China discourages global bodies and diplomats from recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign state, and views efforts to recognize the island’s sovereignty as hostile actions.

Both the preparation committee and Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claim that despite controversy over using the name “Taiwan” — referring to a region rather than any particular city — InterPride eventually relented and agreed to use the name “WorldPride Taiwan,” even publishing the name in an online poster announcing the result of the bid process for the right to host the global Pride event.

Marchers in Taiwan Pride’s parade in 2011 – Photo: Carrie Kellenberger, via Wikimedia

The committee argued in a Facebook post explaining the potential name controversy that having “Taiwan” in the name is significant — given Taiwan’s status as the first jurisdictions in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019, and the island playing host to the largest annual Pride parade in Asia — as well as the fact that events were expected to be held in various cities across the island, not just in Kaohsiung.

“Not only does the decision disrespect Taiwan’s rights and diligent efforts, it also harms Asia’s vast LGBTIQ+ community and runs counter to the progressive principles espoused by InterPride,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement

Taipei City Councillor Miao Poya supported the decision to withdraw from the event, writing in a Facebook post, “The human rights in Taiwan is based on our independent sovereignty and our democratic and free constitutional political system. If InterPride violated the decision in the tripartite meeting in naming the event WorldPride Taiwan, I could only wish them success in hosting pride parades in other cities in China.

“Turn away from democratic Taiwan and embrace authoritative China, all the talk about human rights are just hypocritical.”

Last year, when InterPride awarded WorldPride 2025 to Taiwan, it passed over Washington, D.C. as a potential host city, despite a robust bid from the Capital Pride Alliance, the chief organizer of the District of Columbia’s annual Pride parade and festival.

As part of that decision, InterPride touted the fact that Taiwan would become the first region in East Asia to host a WorldPride celebration as part of its justification — a potentially historic occurrence.

Many supporters of D.C.’s bid felt slighted by InterPride’s decision, arguing that the chance for the District to host WorldPride 2025, which would coincide with the 50th anniversary of Capital Pride, was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Ryan Bos, the president of the Capital Pride Alliance, sidestepped questions about whether the organization would revive its bid to host WorldPride 2025 in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t have much of a reaction right now,” Bos said of the Taiwan Preparation Committee’s decision to withdraw from WorldPride. “I’m still gathering information to learn more about what happened. But I do know that hosting a WorldPride is a big responsibility. Any host city goes through a lengthy process after being selected.”

Bos said he would be seeking out more information about what else contributed to the cancellation, and said he looked forward to attending InterPride’s annual international conference later this year, which will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October — and where a potential replacement host city could be discussed.

“We have not spoken to InterPride yet, so we anticipate having some conversations,” he said. “We’re open to a conversation, but don’t know if it will be presented to us as an opportunity or not.”

Asked whether D.C. could have pulled off hosting WorldPride, Bos told Metro Weekly, “I’m 100% confident that Washington, D.C. would have been able to pull off WorldPride as part of our 50th anniversary.”

Bos also conceded there may be “a lot of emotions” for some people in D.C. who have been involved in two separate bids to host the Gay Games, and one bid for WorldPride — only to have the District passed over all three times.

“What I’ll say is, regardless of WorldPride, we still have a 50th anniversary in 2025,” he said. “And since last fall, when we were not selected, we have begun to put things in place to roll out many of the components that we put in our [WorldPride] bid, which was designed for a 50th anniversary as well.

“We feel we’ll be able to put in place many of the same elements that we felt critical to a special celebration in 2025 that would acknowledge 50 years of Pride here in Washington.”

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