Thailand will ban gay pride celebrations, say organisers

THAIAN PHILIPPINES — Thailand will ban all gay pride events and celebrations starting from Saturday, the government said on Tuesday, adding it will also ban gatherings of religious groups.

The move follows a ban on gay sex, gambling and other activities in the kingdom on March 30 that was also aimed at outlawing homosexuality.

In a statement issued on Monday, Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the government was “not a party to” the ban and had no plans to implement it.

“It is a matter for the Thai government to take into account its own laws, including its laws relating to religion, morality and sexual orientation,” he said.

Thailand has the world’s third-highest rate of HIV infections and the highest HIV-related death rate in the world.

The country’s top AIDS researcher said last month that Thailand would be the first in the region to legalize gay marriage and adopt the country’s first gay-friendly policy.

Thai police have also warned that gay men and women will be targeted.

“If anyone is found to be involved in a gay or lesbian activity, they will be subjected to arrest and the law will apply,” Deputy Prime Minister Narathiwat Puthutakul said on Monday.

A recent survey by the Thailand HIV/AIDS Centre found that two-thirds of Thai men and half of Thai women believed homosexuality was not normal, according to AFP news agency.

Police are also planning to crack down on gay rights groups, especially those that promote homosexuality, by raiding their offices, arresting people for allegedly spreading HIV-positive news, and confiscating equipment, including computers and mobile phones, said the statement.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has repeatedly denied claims that the country has a large gay population.

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