By Juarawee Kittisilpa
PATTAYA, Thailand (Reuters) - Filipina Fuschia Anne Ravena was crowned Miss International Queen 2022 on Saturday at a contest in Thailand billed as the world's largest and most popular transgender pageant.
The 27-year-old business owner beat 22 other contestants for the crown, with the second and third place going to contestants from Colombia and France, respectively.
"My first message to everyone is to spread love and peace and unity because that is the most important thing that we do as of the moment and what's happening in the world right now," said Ravena who wore a glittery-silver evening gown.
The pageant, which was halted for almost two years because of the pandemic, resumed in the Thai seaside town of Pattaya during Pride Month to also celebrate gender equality, said Alisa Phanthusak, the CEO of Miss Tiffany Show, the organiser.
The contest, which brings together transgender people from around the world, was launched over a decade ago to help transgender women feel more accepted by society.
Thailand has one of Asia's most open and visible lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, adding to its image of tolerance and attraction as a liberal holiday destination for foreign tourists.
But activists say Thai laws and institutions have yet to reflect changing social attitudes and still discriminate against LGBT+ people and same-sex couples.
(Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)