LGBT activists kiss in parliament, splitting Thais online

James Panumas and Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree embrace and kiss Wednesday in parliament: Image: MGR News 1 / Facebook
James Panumas and Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree embrace and kiss Wednesday in parliament: Image: MGR News 1 / Facebook

Two young men locked lips in the middle of parliament while advocating for same-sex marriage and today photos of the moment have stirred heated debate over whether it was appropriate.

While some hail as “courageous” the kiss shared by two LGBT rights activists after petitioning to amend the law to allow full marriage rights for same-sex couples, others decried it for violating tradition and respectability

“Kissing is not a crime, it’s a universal right of being human,” James Panumas wrote online of his Wednesday kiss with his boyfriend Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, saying it wasn’t planned but happened spontaneously.

Some objected in starkly homophobic terms.

“When your freedom is above suitability and tradition. You only think about equality but disregard culture, manners and customs. How are you different than animals when you fuck wherever you want to?” @YamaDokYamaRan tweeted last night.

While not all criticism was so pointedly hostile, many critics said the parliament is not a place for any public displays of affection.

“Personally, I support LGBT rights, but this doesn’t sit well with me. It’s not just that they’re LGBT, even if a female-male couple did this in the parliament, I would also consider it inappropriate. I think it would be more effective if they just hugged or held hands. They didn’t have to do this,” the admin of the popular news page Drama Addict wrote yesterday. 

Standing on the other side of the debate, Facebook user Bert Dougan complimented the activists for their bravery.

“Just get it done. Hats off to your bravery and social conscience. Good luck, boys. One love,” he wrote along with a photo of the kissing couple yesterday.

Regardless of the mixed reactions, this morning Mukda Pongsombat – Pheu Thai MP and chairwoman of a house committee covering LGBT issues – apologized for the kiss.

“As the committee chairman, I take responsibility for not being more thorough as well as not checking and asking, because I did foresee anything like this happening in the parliament. I would like to say sorry to my fellow citizens. I will be more careful from now on and make sure displays such as this doesn’t happen again,” she told reporters today. 

She added that she would discuss the incident with the committee when it meets next week.

Same-sex marriage is not legal in the kingdom though civil unions became recognized one year ago. LGBT activists say that relegates them to second-class status and shuts them out of important benefits such as state welfare, personal income tax deductions and adoption rights.

At the time, many activists argued it would will further widen the gap between heterosexual and LGBT rights and vowed to continue campaigning for full marriage equality.


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