In a big push towards greater LGBT rights in Thailand, the country's four newly elected LGBT members have prompted the house to rethink its dress code. The MPs caused a stir with their bright colourful outfits right from their first day in the parliament.
On their first day in parliament on Monday after elections in March, the four newly elected MPs of the Future Forward Party caused a stir with their colourful outfits in contrast to the formal attire worn by other lawmakers.
“LGBT politicians can dress as they please, but the suits or dresses must be modest,” Sorasak Pienvej, secretary-general of the lower house of parliament, said. Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, Thailand's first transgender member of parliament wore a bright skirt and an orange blazer. I wanted to make a statement: 'I am here. This is who I am, and we need to address these issues',” said Tanwarin, who is also a filmmaker and identifies as non-binary.
The most recent election was Thailand's first since a military coup in 2014 . It was also a significant one because there were some LGBT candidates running, including a transgender contender for prime minister. The largely conservative Buddhist society has built a reputation as a place with a relaxed attitude towards gender and sexual diversity since homosexuality was decriminalised in 1956.Earlier this year, Thailand finalised a draft Civil Partnership Bill that legally recognised same-sex couples as civil partners.
Even then, LGBT people face widespread discrimination, are often rejected by their families and mocked in the workplace, say human rights activists. “We must stop putting everyone in a box according to their gender,” Tanwarin said.