They were between 500 and 1,000 people marching in the streets of Dili a week ago during Timor Leste second gay pride. The number sounds small but this can be assessed as a true event for the tiny country, which gained independence 15 years ago. Pride events included talks about how to keep LGTBQ youth safe, a concert, and its first-ever march in the capital city.
The event was supported among others by the LGBT Hatutan youth group, in coordination with UN Women, UN HR, Codiva, Asia Foundation, the US Embassy and various partners.
While neighbouring Indonesia has seen the rise of intolerance and a string of bashing by politicians against the country’s gay minority, Timor Leste on its 15th anniversary of independence seemed million of miles away from its big neighbour.
The event was indeed backed by Timor-Leste Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo. The PM sent a message of support for the gay community, the theme of this year’s march was “acceptance”. “Discrimination, disrespect, and abuse towards people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity does not provide any benefit to our nation,” declared Timor Leste Prime Minister.
Reportedly, hundreds of people joined with a marching band to participate in the Pride parade. Many wore the t-shirt of the Price: ” I accept & respect the differences between people. How about you?”
According to one of the organizers, Natalino Ornai Guterres to the gay publication “Out in Perth”the event was a smashing success”.