On Saturday, a group of about 200 gay rights activists were celebrating Chiang Mai’s second gay pride festival when a group of 30 red-shirted demonstrators appeared with megaphones and shut down the event, dismantling the stage and blocking off Pride parade demonstrators from either exiting or leaving. Thai police had promised protection for the group, but did nothing, according to reports.
In an Op-Ed signed by “Milt” in The Nation, one demonstrator writes:
“With their sound system blaring, and their thugs gathered and menacing, they surrounded Buddha Satharn, a public space, where a few Chiang Mai citizens were preparing to stage Chiang Mai’s second Gay Pride Parade. They made it impossible for participants to either enter or leave the grounds. They shouted nonsense about gays not representing Lanna culture. Funny, but I didn’t know that threatening other Thais was representative of the good people of Lanna or their heritage. And they remained there shaking their signs and screaming their threats long after the parade was officially cancelled.
Of course, Chiang Mai’s police failed to do anything to see that the sanctioned parade went ahead despite telling organisers they would be out in force to prevent violence. “
“The move came after a group of 30 red-shirt protesters went to Tawan Trendy Mall, where a stage had been erected to welcome the Gay Pride Parade. The parade was scheduled to head from the Buddhasathan towards the Night Bazaar and to the mall.
The protesters launched verbal attacks through megaphones, saying the event tarnished the city’s reputation. They also reacted angrily to a remark by the organisers that the “Rak Chiang Mai 51” group was acting like thugs.
The group vowed not to allow the event to take place in public. They confronted the organisers and dismantled the stage set up to welcome participants of the parade.
“We do not understand why the red-shirt group has to drag politics into our activities,” said Niwat.
Thai Youth Network coordinator Kullanant Padermwan-napong said the red-shirt movement has actually discouraged teenagers who want to work for society.
The youth group wants the protesters to apologise for their “uncivilised” action towards teenagers and other people who organised the event.”