Metro Weekly

Will Thailand Advance LGBTQ Rights?

Presumed Prime Minister Pita Limjaroenrat promised Pride attendees he would push for laws allowing same-sex marriage and recognizing gender identities.

Bangkok Pride 2023 – Photo: ketsada.uns, via Instagram

The frontrunner to become Thailand’s next prime minister has vowed to stand up for LGBTQ rights should he be elected.

Appearing at the second annual Pride parade in Bangkok on Sunday, June 4, Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the progressive Move Forward party, promised that if he becomes prime minister, he will help pass a law within the first 100 days of taking power that will legalize same-sex marriages and recognize gender-nonconforming people’s identities.

Pita, 42, is expected to be named prime minister next month, after the Move Forward party won the most seats in last month’s general election. Still, his party faces potential roadblocks, including a lack of support in the Senate, whose members were appointed by a military junta that has ruled the country since staging a coup in 2014.

Pita hopes to lead a coalition of eight political parties to pass a series of reform-minded laws that stalled in parliament under the previous government, reports Reuters

“Once the government is formed we will support Marriage Equality [Act], Gender Identity [Act] and several others, including welfare,” Pita told reporters at the parade. “These few things will make the celebration of diversity in Pride Month into pride always.”

Writing on Facebook, Pita described Thailand as “a country driven by love, not fear,” according to Q News.

“Diversity is not a weakness, but a strength of this country,” he wrote. “Love is love and love must win. It’s about telling the world about the values we share.”

“The way forward is to see that people are equal no matter who you are,” he added. “We all have equal human dignity and must have equality before the law and receive public services from the state fairly and equally, not be discriminated against.”

Thailand has one of Asia’s most open and visible LGBTQ communities, but many political activists say Thai laws have failed to acknowledge social changes in society, and there is still some resistance among certain segments of society, including social conservatives, to passing laws protecting LGBTQ rights or supporting LGBTQ visibility.

The country currently doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, but approved draft legislation last year allowing same-sex couples to register their partnership with the government, giving them the right to jointly own property, adopt and raise children jointly, and pass their property and money onto their surviving partners, according to Bloomberg News.

The laws being proposed by Move Forward and its parliamentary allies would officially recognize same-sex marriages as valid under the law, and would allow transgender or gender-nonconforming people to either use gender-neutral titles, or allow them to avoid gender-specific titles on official legal and identification documents.

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