Bangkok Pride parade shines ray of hope for Thailand’s LGBTQ+ community
Chants of “equal marriage” and “LGBTQ+ rights” filled the air on Sunday afternoon as Bangkok's first official Pride parade took place in Silom.
Thousands of well-wishers and the LGBTQ+ crowd turned up in a show of support for Bangkok’s first official Pride parade organised by Bangkok Naruemit Pride, which was a celebration of Thailand’s LGBT+ community. The parade started at 4pm at Maha Uma Devi Temple and made its way to Silom.
The colourful parade filled with rainbow flags was joined by supporters of all genders, activists, sex workers, politicians, celebrities, representatives from the private sector, beauty queens who were all encouraged in a Facebook post by Bangkok Pride to “Dress up in anything that expresses yourself with confidence, pride, and dignity”.
The colours of the rainbow brought cheer and joy from people singing LGBTQ+ anthems like “I kissed a girl” by Katy Perry and Madonna. Many also paraded with signs voicing their concerns about marriage equality, legalised abortions, legalising sex work.
Engaged couple Anticha Sangchai and Vorawan Ramwan wore white wedding dresses and were cheered on by thousands as they got married in the middle of the event.
Newly elected Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt also joined the parade, jumping around with the symbolic rainbow flag. He had earlier said at a press conference that “Bangkok is a city of diversity in many aspects, not just sexual diversity. We can live happily when we can accept diversity,”
He added that as per his plan, June would be designated 'Pride month'. Every month is correlated to Bangkok’s celebration of festivals.”
"It's the first time that a Bangkok governor has joined a gay event. I used to be an adviser to one of the governors and he did not even want to come," said Pakorn Pimton, a veteran gay activist.
"I wish more LGBTQ+ people would come out to the parade. From what I observed, I think this pride event saw many more non-LGBTQ+ participants than LGBTQ+ themselves," he said.
Pakorn had organised the "Bangkok Gay Festival" in 1999 and he has continued to hold the event for 23 years since then with many forms of activities. He said he would hold another one in October this year.
Thailand’s social media was filled with mixed messages with many people expressing through the hashtag #BangkokPride2022 that this felt like a ray of hope and celebrating Pride.
One of the first big moves and very proud to be in the community. Hope we get more recognized next year and I’ll absolutely be there with you all. #นฤมิตไพรด์ #Pride2022— amx (@youarethatgod) June 5, 2022
🤩 https://t.co/K5ypbRkLx5 pic.twitter.com/zCU5rTxVTQ
Regarding the current situation of the LGBTQ+ community, Kittinun Daramadhaj, president of the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, posted on his Facebook that Thai Parliament is set to vote on June 8 on a bill introducing same-sex unions with almost the same legal rights as married couples.
Due to its relatively high tolerance to sexual diversity, Thailand is regarded as a “utopia” for LGBTQI+ people by many foreign visitors who experience abus in their home countries. However, the Kingdom still does not legally recognise same-sex marriage, and discrimination against sexual diversity remains.
Prior to Covid-19, Pride parades were held in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. In the capital, the events were organised by Silom nightlife business operators.
In the late 2010s, Bangkok, unlike other parts of the world, held LGBT pride parades during the cultural holiday, "Loy Krathong", in November.
The parades, however, were not warmly received at a time when LGBT and human rights were still taboo topics. The parades were organised by Silom district gay business owners without the support of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration or the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The BMA and Silom district officials were quoted as suggesting that blocking the street could result in complaints from Silom residents. As a result, one lane of Silom was dedicated to floats, while the remaining lanes could be used by buses and automobiles.
As the participants and floats moved alongside taxis, motorcycles, and buses, the parades in Bangkok were broadcast around the world.
Other large Thai cities, including Phuket and Pattaya, held their own pride parades, which mostly served as tourist attractions. When a pride parade was organised in Chiang Mai, several political legal groups staged a protest.
Pride parades, held in cities across the world, commemorate the Stonewall riots, which started when police raided the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City in June 1969.