Thailand Is Failing To Keep Up As The ‘Gay Capital Of Asia’ And Here’s Why


Posted By Vaishnavi Bhaskar

Thailand or The ‘Gay Capital of Asia’, in all of its glory is considered to be a safe haven for queer citizens and visitors. Unlike other South East nations who have prioritised a culture and religion that rejects the LGBTQAI+ community, this ‘Pink Destination’ has upheld modern liberal LGBTQ rights in its legislature for a very long time now.  Having legalised homosexuality in 1956,  the country today occupies the center-stone spot over sex reassignment surgeries and is also considered to be a home to ‘kathoey’ or lady boy culture. 

However, while the famous holiday destination flaunts its inclusiveness, according to various local LGBTQ rights activists Thailand’s queer acceptance is only skin deep and even though it was one of the first to legalize homosexuality, the prevalence of cultural homophobia continues to oppress minorities even now. Commenting on this duplicity of the Thai Society, Anjana Suvarnananda, president of premier Queer rights group Anjaree, said “I think it’s true that Thai people can only accept gay and lesbian people in superficial ways such as the way they act or dress. But when it comes to meaningful circumstances, Thai people tend to be biased against them”

Therefore,  what promotes itself as a queer friendly hub, claiming to provide resources and space for those willing to undergo reassignment surgeries, in reality has little to no laws protecting the basic rights of the community. The country’s Gender Equality Act also has special exceptions made for education, religion and public interest, which fail to adequately prosecute acts of injustices faced by queer individuals and prevent them from accessing resources and employment opportunities. 

There is also an increase in the rate of ‘Corrective Rapes’ being carried out throughout the country to ‘cure’ lesbians of their sexual orientation, as pointed out by Paisarn Likhitpreechakul, in an article to the ‘Bangkok Post’.

The unregulated  methods of conversion therapy practiced in the nation  force its male youth, “suspected” of homosexuality into ‘monkhood’ in order to be ‘cured’, while many others are either forcefully entered into corrective psychotherapy or kicked out of their homes. Murders and acts of violence against LGBTQIA+ individuals are persecuted under the banner of ‘crimes of passion’, which severely undermines justice and fails to punish homophobia and transphobia.

Thailand is going through a complex state of events with respect to the security and rights of  LGBTQIA+ individuals. The community does not face direct oppression from the state but that very state’s systematic, seemingly subtle,  negation on the ground level and a lack of effort on it’s part to create awareness among the masses severely hampers the rise of equality.

Should the LGBTQ+ view this situation as glass half full or glass half empty? 

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