Thousands join Pride celebrations in Bangkok

Annual Pride celebrations returned to Bangkok with a parade in the Siam Square shopping district, joined by thousands of Thais and foreigners, while leaders of the new government coalition promised to pass a Marriage Equality bill as soon as parliament opens.

Parade participants marching through Rama 1 Road in front of Wat Pathum Wanaram Temple.

The parade marched from the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre to celebrate the LGBTQ community and raise awareness about LGBTQ rights, from marriage equality and gender recognition to access to healthcare and gender-affirming care for all, along with other issues, including legalization of sex work and reproductive rights. The parade ended at the Pride stage at Central World, with concerts and performances from drag queens, as well as speeches from politicians and activists.

Pita Limjaroenrat marching in the parade along with other Move Forward MP designates.

Pita Limjaroenrat, Move Forward Party leader and Prime Ministerial candidate, told reporters before joining the march along with other Move Forward MPs designate that Bangkok Pride would send a message to the world that all kinds of love is possible in Thailand and love will win in many ways that the world may not expect. He promised that as soon as the eight parties can form a government, he is ready to support marriage equality, gender recognition, and welfare for all genders, so that the world will see Thailand as a safe and open place where people can be themselves.

Pita said that the new government can bring both the Marriage Equality and the Civil Partnership bills back to parliament immediately. He noted that even the last government agreed to pass both bills, which is not gender-based discrimination but giving people a choice of how they want their relationship to be. He also said he is certain that both bills will be passed within the first 100 days of the new government.

Paetongtarn Shinawatra (left) during the parade with Nattawut Saikuar (right).

Both Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Pheu Thai Prime Ministerial candidate, and Dr Chonlanan Srikaew, Pheu Thai Party leader, also said that their Party sees the importance of equality and gender diversity, and that they intend to support the Marriage Equality bill.

Paetongtarn said that as part of the government coalition, Pheu Thai is ready to implement LGBTQ rights policies, noting that the eight parties in the coalition have discussed these policies. She said that as soon as the Election Commission certifies the election results, bringing the Marriage Equality bill in front of parliament as soon as the session opens would be a good starting point for the next government. She also said that people have their own lives and the right to choose. Gender must no longer be a limitation or dictate how one lives, she said.

Activists marching in the parade carrying signs calling for marriage equality.

After facing a long delay, the Marriage Equality bill passed its first reading in June 2022, along with the Civil Partnership bill, previously criticized by civil society for not granting the same rights and dignity to LGBTQ couples as heterosexual couples and for being unclear about whether certain rights are granted.

The Marriage Equality bill was proposed by Move Forward MPs and amends the Civil and Commercial Code to allow marriage registration regardless of gender. It also proposes to raise the age at which a person can legally marry without parental consent or court permission from 17 to 18 years old. The bill has been on the parliamentary agenda since November 2020. After Parliament voted in February 2022 to forward it to the Cabinet for consideration, the Cabinet rejected it, claiming that it was similar to the Civil Partnership bill proposed by the Ministry of Justice.

The Civil Partnership bill, on the other hand, defines a civil partnership as a union between two people of the same gender, both of whom must be at least 17 years old and at least one of whom must be a Thai national. The bill states that civil partners must live together as family, and that the partnership ends when one partner dies. It also lists the circumstances in which partners may seek divorce, such as domestic violence or infidelity.

Both bills were forwarded to an ad-hoc committee after passing their first readings, but despite repeated demands from the civil society for parliament to pass the Marriage Equality bill, they were not brought back to parliament for their second and third readings in time before parliament was dissolved.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the eight parties in the new government coalition mentions enacting a marriage equality law as part of the coalition’s agenda, but included a reservation protecting the rights to practice one’s religion to reassure the public that religious leaders will not be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for LGBTQ couples.

Meanwhile, activists are preparing to submit a petition for amendments to sections on marriage and family in the Civil and Commercial Code. In addition to allowing marriage regardless of gender and raising the age at which a person can get married from 17 to 18, the bill proposes to amend the language used in the Civil and Commercial Code to be gender neutral so that the same rights, duties, and legal recognition are granted to persons of every gender and sexuality.

The petition now has over 300,000 signatures, far exceeding the 10,000 required for a law to be proposed to parliament by the public. 

Gallery

A participant in the parade holding a sign advocating for a gender recognition law.

Standing in the hot afternoon sun, the Bangkok Gay Men's Chorus rehearses ahead of their performance later in the afternoon in front of the Siam Center shopping mall.

Parade participants marching through Rama 1 Road carrying a large Pride flag, said to be over 100 metres-long.

Parade participants marching under the rainbow flag.

A parade participant walked through Chaloem Phao Intersection carrying a Pride flag.

A participant from the Asia Pacific Transgender Network carrying a sign calling for an end to conversation therapy.

Carrying the rainbow flag, the Chiang Mai Frontrunners, a group of runners advocating for marriage equality and inclusivity LGBTIQAN athletes, joined the parade.

Dressed in traditional attire, a group of Myanmar migrants joined the parade.

Singhadang Feminists' Club, a student group from Thammasat University, joined the parade carrying a sign saying "Gender liberaiton is not a way for capitalists to make money."

The Recreational Creative Association of Thammasat University joined other student groups at the parade.

Tamtang group, a group of abortion right advocates offering online and telephone counseling for those seeking abortions, joined the parde with a banner calling for abortion to be accessible in every province.

The Service Workers In Group Foundation (SWING) joined the parade carrying signs calling for the legalisation of sex work and chanting "Sex work is work."

A parade participant with a sign taped to her back saying "I want my mom to know I'm happy with the life I chose."

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