The frontrunner to be Thailand's next prime minister joined a Pride parade in the capital on Sunday, promising to pass a law that would allow same-sex marriage and gender identity rights if he becomes premier.
Thousands of LGBTQ+ people, their allies and political leaders marched through central Bangkok, marking Pride month and promoting gender equality in the second official Pride parade to be held in the country.
Marchers waved rainbow flags with one holding a placard that said "freedom to choose gender" and another that said "love is love," in rainbow colours. Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt said that over 50,000 people joined this year's Pride parade, more than double the attendance of last year's event.
Move Forward Party leader and prime ministerial candidate Pita Limjaroenrat (2nd right) gestures during the Pride March event in Bangkok on Sunday as Pheu Thai Party leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra (2nd left) looks on. (AFP photo)
Political figures joining the parade included Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the progressive Move Forward party, which is pushing to lead a coalition after winning the most seats in a May 14 general election when voters made clear their hope of ending almost 10 years of rule by the military and military-backed governments.
"Once the government is formed we will support Marriage Equality (Act), Gender Identity (Act) and several others, including welfare," Mr Pita told reporters at the parade.
"These few things will make the celebration of diversity in Pride Month into pride always," he said.
Pheu Thai Party leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra (centre) take part in the Pride March event in Bangkok on Sunday. (AFP photo)
The coalition, which consisted of eight political parties, has made a joint pledge to pass laws, including the Marriage Equality Act, to ensure equal rights for all couples regardless of gender, after the passage of the draft law and related legislations were stalled in parliament under the previous government.
Thailand has one of Asia's most open and visible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, but many political activists say the country’s laws and traditional institutions have yet to reflect changing social attitudes and still discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples.