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Thailand ignites Pride Month with massive parade and steps toward marriage equality

Thailand’s Pride Month starts with a bang in Bangkok, with over 200,000 attending the parade. Historic as the Thai Prime Minister joins, signaling strong support for LGBTQ+ rights as the nation moves towards legalizing same-sex marriage.



Participants of the Bangkok Pride Parade (Photo: Roy Ngerng)

Thailand commenced its Pride Month celebrations with a spectacular parade in Bangkok on Saturday (1 June), marking a significant step towards becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Bangkok Pride Parade, a vibrant manifestation of support and solidarity, saw over 200,000 participants and spectators along the bustling Rama I Road.

The event, jointly hosted by Bangkok Pride and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, in collaboration with key private sectors like Siam Piwat Group, spanned the entire month of June with myriad activities centered around inclusivity and diversity. Notably, the parade featured the longest Pride flag in Thailand, measuring 200 meters, and showcased five main themes celebrating various forms of love.

In a historic move, Thailand’s Prime Minister Mr Srettha Thavisin joined the parade, marking the first time a sitting Prime Minister has participated in the event. The parade also saw prominent figures such as Ms Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Leader of the Pheu Thai Party, and various ministers, highlighting the growing governmental support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Photo: Prime Minister Mr Srettha Thavisi’s Facebook

Ms Arun Chumaporn, President and Founder of Narumit Pride and host of the Bangkok Pride Festival, emphasized the significance of the event, stating, “This year is a milestone for the LGBTQIAN+ community as we anticipate the enactment of the equal marriage law by year-end. Our festival not only celebrates this imminent achievement but also sets the stage for Bangkok to bid for hosting WorldPride 2030. We are here not just to celebrate, but to galvanize support and make history.”

The Bangkok Pride Festival kicked off on 31 May 31 at Parc Paragon, and activities under “The Celebration: Right to Love” campaign will continue throughout the month at various venues including Siam Paragon, Siam Center, and ICONSIAM. The events aim to bolster Thailand’s position as a top destination for LGBTQ+ tourists and stimulate economic and tourism sectors.

In addition to the parade, the Bangkok Pride Forum 2024 and the Drag Bangkok Festival 2024 are among the key events. These forums discuss critical topics such as mental health support for diverse genders, the potential of Thailand becoming a hub for hormone production, and policies to drive the ‘Rainbow Economy’.

Reflecting on the journey of Pride in Thailand, the narrative has shifted significantly since the first Bangkok Gay Festival in 1999. Over the years, the focus has moved from merely celebratory to profoundly political, with this year’s parade underscoring the urgent call for legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Participants of the Bangkok Pride Parade (Photo: Roy Ngerng)

Ms Saruntorn Asaves, Deputy Managing Director of Siam Piwat Co., Ltd., expressed her support, saying, “Bangkok’s vibrant atmosphere and inclusive culture make it an ideal host for tourists of all lifestyles. By supporting the Bangkok Pride Festival, we are not just part of a celebration but a movement towards a more inclusive and diverse society.”

The celebration attracted both domestic and international media attention as Thailand’s inaugural gay parade and one of the first in Asia. The parade was lively yet chaotic, as it was not completely closed off from traffic, allowing marchers, dancers, and floats to navigate through moving vehicles.

Vitaya Saeng-Aroon, director of Diversity In Thailand, noted the evolution of the parade’s significance: “Previously, the parade was more of a festive gathering with little emphasis on advocacy. However, it has now transformed into a platform with a pronounced political message, thanks to organizers like Waaddao, who are committed to promoting gender equality and diversity.”

Waaddao, who has been organizing Bangkok Pride since 2022, shared her motivations: “The youth-led pro-democracy protests in 2020 inspired me to utilize street demonstrations as a means to further our cause. This has infused a new vigor into our advocacy efforts, aiming to secure equal marriage and gender equality rights.”

As Thailand nears the final legislative steps to legalize marriage equality, the enthusiasm and advocacy at this year’s Pride events not only celebrate the community’s resilience but also signal a transformative period for equal rights in the region.

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