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Pride Month opened in Thailand with a parade in Chiang Mai on Sunday (28 May) with a parade in the city’s old town to campaign for LGBTQ rights.

Parade participants carrying a rainbow Pride flag as they march through Chiang Mai's old town.

The parade started at the Chiang Mai Religion Practice Centre on Tha Phae Road before marching through the Night Bazaar to Tha Phae Gate for events, including movie screenings, performances, a Pride Ambassador contest, and wedding ceremonies. Local activist groups also spoke about their work.

The parade retraced the route of a Pride parade on 21 February 2009, which was prevented from taking place after facing violence and hate speech from local Red Shirt groups and media who saw a Pride parade as a disgrace and forced the organizers to cancel the march out of safety concerns. The incident, now known as “Sao Saw Et” ("Saturday the 21st" in Northern Thai), has been compared to the Stonewall Riots, and 21 February is now observed as the Stop Violence Against LGBTQ Day among Thai activists.

A banner saying "Sex work is not a crime" was put up during the events.

On Sunday evening, locals and tourists joined the 2023 Chiang Mai Pride events, along with activists and politicians, including the province’s deputy governor Weerapong Ritrod.

Move Forward Party party-list MP designate Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat joined the parade, along with the party’s Chiang Mai constituency MP designates.

“Chiang Mai Pride is the first to open Pride2023 in Thailand this year. It is a month of pride, because we are ourselves. It is not abnormal, twisted, or sinful. We are natural,” Tunyawaj said, noting that the new government coalition led by the Move Forward Party will bring back the Marriage Equality bill for its second and third readings as soon as parliament opens.

Tunyawaj said that the reservation in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the parties joining the government coalition that the government will enact the Marriage Equality Act but that no one will be forced to go against their religion shows that that there is a space for everyone’s beliefs and that people can co-exist with their differences and without hatred.

Tunyawaj also noted that the Move Forward Party is proposing several other policies to improve gender equality, including amending legislation against sexual violence, enacting a Gender Recognition law, placing women officers in every police station, and extending paid parental leave to 180 days.

Other Pride events are taking place throughout June in 15 cities across the country: Bangkok, Pattaya, Roi Et, Ubon Ratchatahni, Khon Kaen, Chiang Rai, Tak, Sisaket, Sakon Nakhon, Udon Thani, Surin, Songkhla, Rayong, and Nan.

Bangkok will have its Pride event on 4 June. The parade will march from the Pathumwan Intersection to the Central World shopping mall, with several other activities along the route of the parade and an after party at Lido Connect.

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