Thai LGBTQ+ activists and pro-democracy protesters march together for equality

They also state demands for reforms of the Thai monarchy

This article was originally published on Prachatai, an independent news site in Thailand.

Thai women, members of the LGBTQ community, and pro-democracy protesters joined a Pride parade last November 7 in Bangkok to call for equality for all marginalized groups, as well as for Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s resignation, a new constitution, and monarchy reform.

The march, organized by the gender equality activist groups Seri Toey Plus and Women for Freedom and Democracy, started at the Samyan intersection in central Bangkok. Carrying several large rainbow flags as well as placards calling for gender equality, marriage equality, abortion rights, and legalization of sex work, protesters marched along Rama IV Road, before stopping on Silom Road, a landmark in the center of the city.

During the march, the Women for Freedom and Democracy group, joined by a group of drummers from the theatre group B-Floor, organised a performance of a Thai version of the Chilean feminist anthem “A Rapist in Your Path” to protest against sexual violence, victim blaming, and rape culture.

Originally conceived by the Chilean feminist collective Las Tesis and sung in Spanish, the song has been translated and sung at women’s rights protests across the world as a way of speaking out about sexual violence and the patriarchal power structure that represses women.

The Thai version was translated by the Women for Freedom and Democracy Group. The lyrics state that “the state that ignores our voice is the state that rapes us”, and name “the police, the military, the courts of justice, the entire country, the monarchy” as complicit in gender-based violence.

The Thai version also uses imagery from the Sanskrit epic Ramayana, which is also popular in Thai culture. The story refers to Rama’s wife Sita, who was forced by her husband to walk through fire to prove her purity after her long captivity by Rama’s rival Ravana.

Arriving at the Saladaeng Intersection, the protesters sat down and hold up their hands in the three-finger ‘Hunger Games’ salute while the national anthem is played from speakers on the truck leading them. Photo and caption from Prachatai

The march stopped under Bangkok skytrain Saladaeng BTS Station, where protesters used the truck that led the march as a stage for dances and speeches on various social issues, such as legalization of sex work, abortion rights, gender-based discrimination in STEM fields, sexual harassment against women activists, being LGBTQ in a Muslim community, ethnic group and immigrant rights, and the patriarchal power structure in the Thai monarchy. The event included a performance by a group of drag queens.

The activists also spoke out against sexual harassment and called for women and LGBTQ people to be represented on protest stages, and stated the pro-democracy movement’s three demands, which are Gen Prayut’s resignation, a new constitution, and monarchy reform. #

LGBTQ rights and sex worker rights activist Sirisak Chaited dressed in a towel with the message “sex work is not a crime” during the march to call for the legalization of sex work. Photo and caption from Prachatai

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LGBTs make voices heard at SONA protest

By Mark Kevin Reginio

Rainbow-colored flags enlivened the streets as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community joined the massive protest during Monday’s second state of the nation address (SONA) by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Naniniwala kami na andaming ipinangako ni Duterte – na po-protektahan at irerespeto ang karapatan ng LGBT, ang karapatan ng kababaihan at isusulong ang anti-discrimination bill at ordinances. Hindi niya natupad kaya naririto kami para singilin siya,” BAHAGHARI-Metro Manila spokesperson Bernadette Neri said.

More than demanding the president of their representation, the LGBT community also called on Duterte to recognize their basic rights.

A working class LGBT, Alena Lauriua, 19, joined the protest to call on the abolishment of contractualization policies on workers.

Kaya sumama ako rito dahil ramdam ko ang hirap ng mga mamamayang Pilipino. Maraming pangako ang rehimeng Duterte, sa mga mangggawa na ititigil ang kontraktuwalisasyonat endo (end-of-contract) kung saan ito’y hindi pa naipapatupad sa mga kompanya,” Lauriua said.

Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III last year said the Duterte administration will not allow contractualization among workers. Latest data by the Philippine Statistics Authority however reveals there are about 4.5 million non-regular workers in the country a year into the Duterte presidency.

Lauriua is working at a handicraft company where she receives sub-minimum wages.

Free education

Yan Puno, 15, a youth LGBT, attended the rally to call for free education.

[Nanawagan po ako para sa] libre at pang-masang edukasyon,” Puno said.

He is also part of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap who recently occupied around 5,000 idled houses in Pandi, Bulacan. But while they were successful in achieving free housing, youth members of KADAMAY still demands free education as a matter of right and state obligation.

Duterte promised the youth of free education for all starting this school year but later retracted saying he first wants to prioritize ‘financially disadvantaged but academically able students.”

Neri hopes the president would fulfill promises he made last year in first SONA, including the continuation of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front as well as ending martial law in Mindanao.

“Kinakailangan na itong mga kagyat na usapin ay makatugon siya ng positibo para sa mamamayan. Kung tumitindig siya para sa mamamayan ay tumitindig din siya para sa mga LGBT,” she said.#