Thailand kicks off Pride Month with parade

Thailand kicks off Pride Month with parade
Photo by AP

BANGKOK — Thailand is kicking off its celebration of the LGBTQ+ community’s Pride Month with a parade Saturday, June 1, 2024, as the country is on course to become the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize marriage equality.

The annual Bangkok Pride Parade is expected to pack the streets in one of the Thai capital’s busiest commercial districts. Pride Month celebrations have been endorsed by politicians, government agencies and some of the country’s biggest business conglomerates, which have become official partners or sponsors for the celebration.

Ann “Waaddao” Chumaporn, who has been organizing Bangkok Pride since 2022, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that she hopes the parade can be “a platform that allows everyone to call out for what they want and express who they really are.”

Waaddao thinks Thai society has shifted a lot from a decade ago, and the issue has now become a fashionable social and business trend.

Thanks in part to her work, a marriage equality bill granting full legal, financial and medical rights for marriage partners of any gender could become reality sometime this year. But the public celebration of gender diversity was not always so popular in Thailand despite its long-standing reputation as an LGBTQ+ friendly country.

Only recently did the political significance behind the term “Pride” gain much importance in the event, said Vitaya Saeng-Aroon, director of an advocacy group Diversity In Thailand.

Previously, there were not a lot of organized LGBTQ+ communities who joined in, “so there were no messages in the parade. It became like a party just for fun,” he said. / AP

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