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Thailand’s LGBT Community and Anti-Government Protesters Unite Against Prime Minister

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Thailand’s LGBT community and anti-government protesters joined in a Pride Parade on Saturday to call for equal rights as well for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and reforms to the monarchy.

A Free Youth-allied group focusing on LGBT community people marched in downtown Bangkok on Saturday afternoon to demand democracy and equal rights.

The “Seritoey Plus” (Free Gender) group of black-clad people gathered at Samyan Mitrtown in Pathumwan district at around 3.30pm.

While the choice of the group’s name was not explained, it brings to mind Seri Thai, the Thai underground resistance movement against Imperial Japan during World War II, and katoey, a Thai term used to describe transgenders.

The demonstrators planned several shows and dances on Silom Road, the destination of their march.

A protest movement that emerged in July has drawn a wide range of interest groups to push for greater democracy and human rights in the Southeast Asian country. Members of the LGBT community wearing colourful outfits marched in the capital Bangkok with youth and student protesters who tend to favour black clothes.

“We agree that real democracy for Thailand will be the start of equality for Thai people and for rights to be prioritized again,” said teacher Lalita Waisinittham, 26.

LGBT Community waved rainbow flags and placards

The anti-government protesters and LGBT groups said the objective of the march was to stimulate the economy brought to its knees by the Covid-19 outbreak and the mismanagement of the government. They said the event would end at 9pm after which participants would disperse to patronize shops in the Silom areaa.

The “Prai Parade” march began at 5pm, with participants stamping on posters bearing the images of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, Paiboon Nititawan, a deputy leader of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), Pareena Kraikupt, a PPRP MP for Ratchaburi, and Warong Dejkitvikrom, leader of the ultraroyalist group Thai Pakdee. “Prai” means plebians or commoners.

On the way, they waved rainbow flags and placards with hashtags such as #รับเลือดกะเทย (AcceptKatoeyBlood) #สมรสเท่าเทียม (EqualMarriageRights) and #LegaliseSexWorker.

Protesters had initially demanded the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth, a former junta leader they accuse of engineering last year’s election to keep power. Demonstrations have also broken taboos by calling for curbs on King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s powers.

Prayuth says last year’s election was fair and has refused to step down. Thailand’s Palace has made no official comment on the anti-government protesters, but last weekend the king said “we love them all the same” when asked to comment on the protesters.

Source: Bangkok Post, Reuters

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