efe-epaAlfredo Garcia Bangkok

Sometimes called Thailand's answer to Pedro Almodovar, due to the thematic and visual similarities her movies share with those of the Spanish filmmaker, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit has become the first transgender person to run as a candidate for the Thai parliament in the Mar. 24 elections.

Tanwarin, born in 1973 in the largely rural and impoverished northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, appears on the electoral list of the Anakot Mai ("Future Forward") party - founded just a year ago to take on the military junta that has ruled the country since a bloodless coup in 2014 - which has gained significant traction, particularly among younger voters.

"The party's slogan is 'All of us are equal', and this attracted me", Tanwarin told EFE.

Tanwarin and her party's plans include the legalization of same-sex marriage after the government approved unions between same-sex couples in December, a measure which the candidate said is insufficient.

"Marriage laws are not equal", the filmmaker said. "I want to change the law which define marriage as a 'union between a man and a woman' to a 'union between two people'.

"The people should be consulted before making changes to any law, but what problems could there be if equal marriage does not deprive anyone of their rights?", she said.

Tanwarin shot to fame in 2010 with her film "Insects in the Backyard", which tells the story of a transgender woman (played by the filmmaker herself) and her two children. The film was banned by the censorship board and was allowed to be screened seven years later only after a short scene was cut.

Despite going into politics, she said she has not abandoned her career as a filmmaker.

"I have not given up my career as a producer and director and I don't separate it from politics, which has always interested me; my films have always been political, because they talk of sexual diversity, which is a political theme," Tanwarin said.

Although Thailand is known as a relatively tolerant country towards the LGBT community, the filmmaker said that Thai society was not free of prejudices.

"It is true that in Thailand there is no violence against the LGBT community, but the people do not yet understand or accept equality; LGBT people are accepted only if they are not a member of your family," she said.

"My fight is not restricted to reaching parliament", she said. "My aim is to make the term LGBT unnecessary - for everyone to start seeing sexual diversity as something normal so that people do not judge anyone based on their sexual orientation," Tanwarin said.

Thailand has witnessed a decade-long political struggle between the groups that support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra - living in self-exile after being ousted in a coup in 2006 - who have won every election held since 2001, and the pro-monarchy and pro-military elites in Bangkok and its surrounding areas.

Tanwarin says that neither side of the divide has supported the LGBT community, but she believes that the situation could change in the upcoming elections as parties scramble to secure their vote.

The filmmaker is aware of the limitations imposed by an electoral system that is designed to favor the army, with all 250 members of the senate being hand-picked by the military junta. The prime minister will be chosen by a majority vote between the Senate and the 500 members of the lower house of parliament, who will be elected in the Mar. 24 polls.

"These elections are not completely democratic, but they offer us an opportunity to show that Thai society no longer tolerates oppression", Tanwarin said. "It is the only chance that we have".