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September 25, 2017

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Mass rally demands marriage equality

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- About 250,000 people flocked to a pop music concert featuring local and foreign stars held in support of same-sex marriage in Taipei Saturday, organizers said.

The concert on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office was one of the biggest-ever gay rights events in Taiwan.

Organizers put the turnout at 250,000 while police estimated 75,000.

The event, coinciding with Human Rights Day, came amid pressure from some civic groups seeking to stop the government's bid to legalize same-sex marriage.

The concert opened with the Amis-language song "Don't Give Up" by indigenous singer-songwriter Suming Rupi.

"I hope the right to marry will be extended to all people in Taiwan," he said while addressing the crowd.

Other performers included Philippine pop chanteuse Sandee Chan, Hong Kong Canto-pop singer Denise Ho and Taiwanese Mandopop singer Dai Ailing.

Ho, who is openly gay and a fervent supporter of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, said she was proud to be part of the "historic moment," referring to the concert.

Three of Taiwan's top pop stars, A-mei, Jolin Tsai and Elva Hsiao, recorded video messages that were played at the concert.

A-mei, a staunch advocate of gay rights, funded the design of a flag that was handed out at the concert, according to the organizers, the Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBT) Hotline Association and Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy.

"Gay people also have the right to get married," President Tsai Ing-wen was cited as saying by Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang, at a different event.

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