Anti-government protesters in Thailand are likely to include marriage equality as they expand their set of demands for change.
Many of the protests are led by young people who are keen to support equality, Bloomberg reports.
Now Arnon Nampa, one of the movement’s most prominent leaders has said same-sex marriage could be on their list of demands.
Arnon said: ‘People may think that this movement only talks about the monarchy – at the heart of the movement is actually equality and liberty.
‘Many protesters have fought for various issues to create a more equal society. The demand for monarchy reform really started from our fight for equality.’
Troubled history sparked protests
The protests in Thailand started on university campuses and have rumbled on since early 2020. They are the result of a troubled Thai history of coups, followed by a decade of botched constitutional reform, a military junta holding power and unfair elections.
Initially, the protests were against the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who has refused to resign.
But they have later come to demand reform of the Thai monarchy. That breaches a huge taboo in Thai society which has traditionally revered the monarchy and seen any question or criticism of it as a national insult.
Moreover, the government’s response to the crisis has deepened tensions. And now protesters are even more determined after police fired water cannons at them in October, injuring dozens of them.
Meanwhile, LGBT+ campaigners in Thailand have become an important part of the protests. They have come with their own demands, around gender and marriage recognition.
Slow pace of change
At the same time, the government has been slow to advance LGBT+ rights.
While some trans identities have long been part of Thai culture, it is still not possible to change legal gender.
This year the government promised to introduce gender recognition laws, after years of pressure from trans people trying to secure their rights.
However the proposals from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security only covers specific categories. As a result it may leave behind non-binary and intersex people.
Likewise, the government has approved a civil partnership bill, which will now move to the National Assembly.
However, many are disappointed that Thailand is not legislating for full same-sex marriage. Opinion polls in the country have long indicated that the majority support marriage equality.
Meanwhile the protesters recognize their demands for change will take time to become a reality. But with young Thais dominating the debate, LGBT+ rights are now firmly on the agenda.