On Sunday, the frontrunner for Thailand’s next prime minister marched in a Pride parade in Bangkok, promising to introduce legislation allowing same-sex marriage and gender identity rights if elected. Thousands of LGBTQ+ persons, allies, and political leaders marched through central Bangkok to celebrate Pride month and promote gender equality in the country’s second official Pride parade.
Marchers carried rainbow flags and held placards that said “freedom to choose gender” and “love is love” in rainbow colours. According to Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt, approximately 50,000 people participated in this year’s Pride march, more than double the attendance from the previous year. Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the progressive Move Forward party, joined the march after gaining the most seats in a May 14 general election in which people expressed their desire to end nearly ten years of rule by the military and military-backed governments.
“Once the government is formed we will support Marriage Equality (Act), Gender Identity (Act) and several others, including welfare,” Pita told reporters at the parade. “These few things will make the celebration of diversity in Pride Month into pride always,” he said.
The coalition, which consisted of eight political parties, has made a joint pledge to pass laws, including the Marriage Equality Act, to ensure equal rights for all couples regardless of gender, after the passage of the draft law and related legislations were stalled in parliament under the previous government. Thailand has one of Asia’s most open and visible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, but many political activists say Thai laws and traditional institutions have yet to reflect changing social attitudes and still discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples.