Bangkok celebrates Pride with parade on Silom Road

Cover photo by Kotcharak Kaewsurach

On Sunday afternoon (5 June), a parade took place on Silom Road in celebration of LGBTQ Pride and to demand equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

The crowd on Silom Road during Sunday's Pride parade

The Bangkok Naruemit Pride parade, organized by a network of LGBTQ rights activists and said to be the first festival of its kind in Bangkok, started in front of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple on Silom Road before marching to Silom Soi 2, one of Bangkok’s nightlife districts.

After stopping under the Saladaeng BTS station, participants laid down a large Pride flag as a stage for performance by groups of drag queens and a fashion show by sex workers. Meanwhile, the sex workers right group Swing Thailand conducted a public poll on whether sex work should be legalized.

Members of Phue Thai Party joined the parade

In addition to activists, civil society organizations, and members of the public, several political party representatives also participated in the parade, including MPs from the Move Forward Party (MFP) and the Pheu Thai Party, former Bangkok governor candidate Sita Divari and other members of the Thai Sang Thai Party, and new Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt.

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt speaking at the parade

During the march, participants shouted “marriage equality” to call for the right for LGBTQ couples to register their marriages. Banners saying “Marriage equality” and “The marriage equality bill did not pass because of the Prayut government” were also seen hanging along the route of the parade.

The Marriage Equality bill, proposed by Move Forward MPs, is scheduled to return to parliament for its first reading tomorrow (8 June), after it was forwarded to the Cabinet for a 60-day consideration period in February, delaying its first reading. Despite being rejected by the Cabinet, which claimed that it is similar to the Civil Partnership Bill proposed by the government, the bill returned to parliamentary agenda as required by the 2019 Rules of Procedure of the House of Representatives.

The Procedure states that if a bill is forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration, the House Speaker may put it on into the parliamentary agenda as an urgent motion after the 60-day period has lapsed, even if the cabinet has not return it to parliament.

Participants in Sunday's Pride parade carrying a large rainbow flag

The Marriage Equality bill proposes that the terminology used in the current marriage law be changed to use “spouse” instead of “husband” and “wife” and “person” instead of “man” and “woman.” If passed, the proposed amendments would allow individuals to be legally married regardless of gender, and ensure that they receive equal rights, duties, and protection under the law. If the bill passes, LGBT couples who have registered their marriage will be able to adopt children together, make medical decisions on behalf of their partner, and in cases where one partner dies, the other will be able to inherit from their partner and make legal decisions about their partner’s assets.

Meanwhile, the Civil Partnership Bill, proposed by the Ministry of Justice and approved by the Cabinet, defines “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.

It has previously been criticised by NGOs and LGBTQ rights activists, who questioned the need for separate legislation legalising LGBTQ marriages and raised concerns that the bill will worsen the stigma against the LGBTQ community in Thailand. They also criticized it for not giving LGBTQ couples the same rights as heterosexual couples and for being unclear about whether certain rights are granted, such as whether a person in a civil partnership is allowed to make medical decisions on behalf of their partner, or whether they are allowed to take their partner’s last name.

Banners saying "Write a new constitution" and “The marriage equality bill did not pass because of the Prayut government” hanging along the parade's route

Another Marriage Equality bill is also in the process of collecting signatures so that it can be proposed to parliament. On 28 November 2021, during a protest at the Ratchaprasong intersection, the Rainbow Coalition for Marriage Equality, a network of over 40 civil society organizations and activist groups, launched a petition proposing amendments to the Civil and Commercial Code to allow marriage registration between two people of any gender.

The amendments will grant LGBTQ couples the same rights, duties, and legal recognition as heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt a child together and be recognized as the child’s parents, the right to have the power of attorney to make medical decisions of behalf of one’s partner and to press charges on behalf of one’s partner, the right to use one’s partner’s last name, and the right to inherit property from each other without the need for a will.

Within 24 hours of its launch, the petition gained over 150,000 signatures, ten times the number legally required for a bill to be put before parliament, and as of 16.40 on 7 June, it has over 334,000 signatures.

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