Women, pride activists march for democracy and equality in Thailand

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Feminists and LGBTQ activists have joined the pro-democracy movement in Thailand as they marched on to one of Bangkok’s nightlife districts on Saturday (Nov. 07), insisting the fight for equality goes hand-in-hand with a broader push for greater democracy.

A diverse crowd of close to 1,500 according to an AFP reporter on the scene, walked under a rainbow banner hundreds of metres long snaking its way through central Bangkok towards Silom during the pride parade.

Since July there have been frequent protests in the Thai capital, with demonstrators demanding a new constitution, reforms of the monarchy and for Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign as prime minister.

Saturday’s rally canvased a broad range of issues including “slut-shaming”, access to safe abortions and legalising sex work, while transgender activists had signs saying: “I’m not abnormal.”

SirisakChaited, a sex worker rights activist, marched wearing a towel emblazoned with the slogan “My body my business”.

“Sex work is not a crime, sex worker rights are human rights,” he said.

A flash mob of high school students danced to K-pop, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Taylor Swift along the parade route.

Some had messages such as “Stop sexual harassment” written in text on their legs.

Many wore elaborate makeup and movie character costumes, while one woman stripped down to her underwear, scrawled with feminist messages.

Architect Hino, 23, who declined to give her full name, said Thai society had a lot of work to do when it came to gender equality.

“Power is not just for men,” she said.

The LGBTQ community has been a visible force at protests calling for the overhaul of Thailand’s government

The kingdom has a vibrant LGBTQ scene and while gender-bending performers are a prominent part of Bangkok’s nightlife, discrimination in schools and the workplace is still rife.

Achita Kittiwannakul, 22, dressed as the character Mulan, said calls for society to respect the rights of minorities aligned with the campaign to shake up Thailand’s democracy.

“We are not happy in this country; the LGBTQ community is suffering,” he told AFP.

“I believe in equality, peace, and for everyone to be able to live happily.”

On Sunday, protesters will return to the streets with a major rally scheduled at the Democracy Monument intersection, with a heavy police presence expected. (Source: CNA)

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