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February 21, End violence against LGBT.

February 21 is a day to remember past violence against Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender people and to campaign to prevent violence in future.

It is four years ago today since one the most disgraceful homophobic events in Chiang Mai’s history when hundreds of thugs from the UDD Red Shirt supporters physically threatened the gay pride parade participants and forced the march and celebrations to be cancelled. Read more: Chiang Mai Mail: Gay Pride march halted by red shirt militants

Thugs halt gay parade
Red Shirt Thugs halt gay parade - Chiang Mai Mail

The events of 21 February were much reviled in the press with headlines like:

Kiss Thailand’s Tolerance for Gays Goodbye

No place for gays in Chiang Mai culture?

Gay Pride in Chiang Mai. A pride or a disgrace for Chiang Mai?

It was the day many foreigners were given a harsh wake up that tolerance for gays in Thailand is very superficial and that this country is not necessarily the gay paradise it sometimes appears. Some of the motivations for the protests of February 21 2009, and the arguments that preceded it, maybe had roots in both local and national politics at the time rather than purely based on hatred of gay people. However, at least when viewed from the perspective of anyone brought up in a western democracy, it became apparent immediately that Thailand still has a long way to go in terms of true democracy, and human rights. Not to mention gay rights. One of the ironies of the whole debacle was the UDD claimed to be fighting for democracy, yet their brand of democracy is clearly very lacking in equality.

Four years on as major strides have been made in many countries towards better rights and equality for gay people, Thailand has still achieved little in practice. Though current discussions of proposals regarding gay partnerships are obviously a welcome step.

  1. admin says:

    Jim, By coincidence I read the piece you wrote just the other day. I was there too, but we didn’t stay long at Buddha Sattan. Went back to Tawan Trendy Mall to see what went on there – which wasn’t pretty either.

  2. jim messenger says:

    I was there. Went inside Buddha Sattan to speak to the organizers surrounded by 2-300 screaming Red Shirts standing on the walls screaming hate to gay/LGBT….It was a disgusting, shameful blot on the wonderful spirit of Lanna and Chiang Mai..

    I wrote an article for a Candian LGBT Magazine on this.

    Jim Messenger, Montreal

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