Thailand, Asia

Thailand is the world's 51st-largest country in terms of total area. About 80% of the population is ethnically Thais, 10% is of Chinese origin, and 3% is ethnically Malay. Thailand is one of the most devoutly Buddhist countries in the world. The national religion is Theravada Buddhism which is practiced by more than 95% of all Thais. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, as the ruling monarch. The King has reigned for more than 60 years, making him the longest reigning monarch. The King is recognized as the Head of State, the Head of the Armed Forces, the Upholder of the Buddhist religion, and Defender of the Faith.
Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that has never been ruled by a European power. The current 2010 political infighting has destabilized the country.

There are no laws against gays or lesbians in Thailand. However, there are some Buddhist laws that prohibit openly gay men to enter monkhood. Transsexuals (known as Kathoey) are imbued in Thai culture via television and cabaret shows such as the famous Calypso performances in Bangkok. Thailand has an (almost) annual gay pride events in Bangkok, Pattaya, Chang Mai and Phuket. The health authorities work together with the gay community to promote HIV education and prevention. Gay and transvestite actors also play key roles in Thai movies and soap operas. 

 

News & Reports:

 

Coming to terms

Scholars discuss the issue of LGBTI acceptance and gender identity in the predominantly Muslim deep South, where tradition, religion and the restive situation influence people’s lifestyle and belief A man with short hair — wearing a sarong around his chest the way a woman would — is seen frolicking alone happily on a crowded beach.… Read more »

Gay Chinese tourists flock to Thailand for fun, acceptance

Phuket, Thailand — Bathed in a pink spotlight, the cabaret singer at Phuket’s ZAG bar lip-syncs the top notes of a popular Mandarin love song, delighting the crowd of gay Chinese tourists who have escaped judgement at home for sexual freedom in Thailand. While the song, “The Moon Represents My Heart”, is a hit with… Read more »

Staggering amounts of US LGBT discrimination revealed

One in four LGBT people in the US have experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation, new research has revealed. The survey, conducted by the Centre for American Progress, included episodes of discrimination which took place during the previous year, both at work and in public. In the workplace, between 11 percent and 28 percent… Read more »

Bangkok plans to ban all street food by year’s end

The Thai capital’s world famous street food scene may soon be a thing of the past. Authorities say they want to impose order and cleanliness, but for many street food is a part of the culture. All street food stalls will be cleared from Bangkok’s roads by the end of the year in a bid… Read more »

Circuit Parties Began Fading in North America a Decade Ago—Why Are They So Hot in Asia?

On Saturday, hordes of gay men and other dance lovers will descend upon a club space in Manhattan for the Black Party, an edgier, kinkier underground variant of the “circuit party,” a gay institution that has, for better or worse, defined a certain strain of macho, drug-embracing, sex-positive party culture since their initial appearance around… Read more »

Gay couple win high-profile surrogacy battle in Thailand

A court in Thailand has awarded custody of a baby to a same-sex couple after a high-profile custody battle with a Thai surrogate mother. The Thai surrogate handed over the baby girl to Gordon Lake and Manuel Santos after her birth last year – but ten days later, she refused to sign the documentation needed… Read more »

Review: First Queer Voices from Thailand by Peter A. Jackson

Our Hong Kong correspondent Nigel Collett shares his thoughts on the recently published First Queer Voices from Thailand: Uncle Go’s Advice Columns for Gays, Lesbians and Kathoeys In 2008, the publication by Hong Kong University Press of Helen Hok-Sze Leung’s Undercurrents: Queer Culture and Postcolonial Hong Kong marked the start of what was to become… Read more »

Tangerine Walk-In Counselling

Email to Richard Ammon: I assume you have seen the news artilces on Google from last year? Also I assume you are asking about the Tangerine Clinic here in Bangkok. Here’s their English language website: Tangerine Walk-in As well, here’s a bio of their clinic director, Frits van Griensven: World Heath Organization If you have… Read more »

Thailand Opens Clinic For Transgender People

Thailand opened its first clinic for transgender people in December. The Tangerine Community Health Center is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other development groups. It offers psychosocial counseling, hormone administration and pap smears. U.S. Ambassador Glyn T. Davis attended the clinic’s opening in Bangkok. “The Tangerine Center will provide… Read more »

A New Gay Webseries That is Worth Your Health

A New Gay Webseries That is Worth Your Health Gayok Bangkok The Series, a webseries following the lives of six diverse gay men living in Bangkok and their drama – relationship, career, family and, most of all, sexual health – in a manner that Asian gay men can truly relate with will premiere on February… Read more »

A Dream Deferred: A Look At Transgender Discrimination In Thailand

Sadly, visibility doesn’t always align with formal acceptance. Bangkok, Thailand – Warat “Bai Thong” Tanasanti was a brilliant student who dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Her dreams came to a screeching halt, however, when she realized that this wasn’t possible. The reason for the 24-year old’s struggle has nothing to do with her qualifications or… Read more »

Queer Southeast Asia: Recognition, Respect & Legitimacy

Over the past few decades, diverse new cultures and communities based on same-sex preference and transgender identity have become increasingly prominent in all the countries of Southeast Asia. Across the cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity of region, and despite the distinctive colonial and semicolonial political histories of the modern states of Southeast Asia (see Jackson… Read more »

How Thailand Became a Global Gender-Change Destination

Beny and Yael Gangian spent more than $30,000 to help their transgender daughter Eimy complete her long-sought-for change of sexual identity. For the Israeli family, who used money saved for 18 years, borrowed from a bank and donated by family and friends, there was only one place they felt would give immediate, affordable and high-quality… Read more »

Two-Faced Thailand: The Ugly Side Of ‘Asia’s Gay Capital’

The country welcomes LGBT tourists with open arms, yet it still lacks policies to protect basic human rights. This is the final part of a 10-part series on LGBT rights in Southeast Asia, which uncovers the challenges facing the LGBT community in the region and highlights the courageous work of activists there. *** At Wat… Read more »

Queer Southeast Asia: Recognition, Respect & Legitimacy

Over the past few decades, diverse new cultures and communities based on same-sex preference and transgender identity have become increasingly prominent in all the countries of Southeast Asia. Across the cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity of region, and despite the distinctive colonial and semicolonial political histories of the modern states of Southeast Asia (see Jackson… Read more »

Thailand’s equality laws come into effect

Discrimination against LGBT is now punishable by law in the country Wednesday (9 September) saw Thailand’s first discrimination laws specifically protecting LGBT people come into effect. The new 2015 Gender Equality Act, which was passed in March, punishes discrimination against gender identity or sexual orientation with up six months in jail and a fine of… Read more »

A man in full

For women wanting to transition to men, a long and often painful process awaits. About two years after first visiting a doctor, Jimmy had his breasts removed. “Was I scared? I was horrified. But I told myself I have to be a man about it,” the 32-year-old, who was born female, said. The surgery went… Read more »

Bangkok’s first Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

The Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival brings together 15 LGBT films from around the world next week The festival boasts a mix of dramas and documentaries from Thailand, Southeast Asia and beyond. It runs from next Friday to June 14 at the Esplanade Cineplex Batchada. The festival will feature 15 films from 12 different… Read more »

Junta to pass law banning homosexuals from monkhood

The junta cabinet has approved a bill on religion which can be used to prosecute, with jail terms, people who propagate ‘incorrect’ versions of Buddhist doctrines or cause harm to Buddhism. The bill also posts jail terms specifically for homosexual monks. In recent decades, although Theravada Buddhism, the prominent Buddhist sect in mainland Southeast Asia,… Read more »

World’s First Three-Way Gay Marriage Takes Place In Thailand

Valentine’s Day 2015 will be infamous for more than the release of the film version of 50 Shades of Grey. It also witnessed the world’s first recorded polygamous gay marriage, as Joke, 29, Bell, 21 and Art, 26 tied the knot. Watchers of The Hangover Part 2 will not be surprised to learn that the… Read more »

Families must end LGBTI violence and improve rights in Asia

Bangkok (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Some of those most guilty of violence and discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people in Asia are their families, which must instead play a key role in improving LGBTI rights, activists from the region said. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) in Asia face the threat of… Read more »

The bitter truth behind Thailand’s gay-friendly image

Deutsche Presse-Agentur – The latest research suggests more than half of us believe homosexuality is morally wrong – a prejudice that’s reflected in the law In Bangkok’s lively Silom district, customers pile into a small, noisy gay bar on a busy Saturday night. Chakgai Jermkwan and his partner Sean L’Estrange co-own the popular venue, which… Read more »

Thai Constitution’s Draft Would Protect LGBT Rights

Bangkok (AP) — Gay rights activists are welcoming a clause in a draft of Thailand’s new constitution that is aimed at protecting the rights of gay and transgender people. The Constitution Drafting Committee, a group hand-picked by the military junta to draft a new charter after last year’s coup, this week added the wording that… Read more »

Thailand to recognize ‘third gender’ in new constitution: panel

Bangkok (Reuters) – Thailand’s constitution will include the term “third gender” for the first time, a member of a panel drafting a new charter said on Thursday, in a move to empower transgender and gay communities and ensure them fairer legal treatment. Thailand has a large gay community, but remains largely conservative, although homosexual, transgender… Read more »

Thai junta’s surrogacy bill to ban LGBT and singles from having their own children

Takato Mitsunaga With no people’s representatives in parliament, the junta has attempted to pass several quick bills without people’s participation. Among them are three controversial gender-related bills, opposed by women and LGBT rights groups. Following bills on Civil Partnerships and Gender Equality (see Prachatai’s reports on these), the junta is aiming to pass another bill.… Read more »

More support for gay and transgender communities needed in Thailand

Thailand has made strides in the fight against HIV, but must do more to directly prevent HIV transmission among men who have sex with men, transgender people, and sex workers. Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), says it is crucial that the government and healthcare providers create… Read more »

More support for gay and transgender communities needed in Thailand

Thailand has made strides in the fight against HIV, but must do more to directly prevent HIV transmission among men who have sex with men, transgender people, and sex workers. Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), says it is crucial that the government and healthcare providers create… Read more »

Thailand entices gay men for HIV testing through parties

Bangkok: Thai authorities are raising awareness about HIV and encourage testing among gay men and transgender people by embarking on new and novel campaigns that include bare-chested male models in a glitzy ballroom dancing to house music while dozens of young gay men get their blood tested. The party for gay men called TestBKK is… Read more »

Mayor blesses marriage of Thai gay couple, praises their good example

The mayor of a northeastern Thai city has officiated at a wedding between two men even though Thailand does not legally recognize marriages of same-sex couples. The marriage of Maitri Chotipinit and Chirasak Klangboriboon who have been dating for four years was blessed by Udon Thani city Mayor Itthipon Triwattanasuwan in the presence of the… Read more »

Nearly half of young gay men in Bangkok not using condoms consistently acquire HIV within five years of starting sex

Over one in five becomes HIV positive in five years even with 100% attempted condom use, study finds A survey of young gay men and transgender women in Bangkok has found that HIV incidence is running at 9% a year in those who don’t use condoms consistently – and 2% a year in those who… Read more »

Bangkok HIV Foundation launches new social campaign to support gay men with HIV in Thailand

Bangkok – A voluntary organization working with people living with HIV is embarking on a new online campaign to help build supportive social environments and combat HIV discrimination against gay, transgender men and women in Thailand, reports GayAsia News.com. The HIV Foundation Thailand begins its new online campaign called “You are Not Alone” August 1… Read more »

Commemorating LGBT Pride Month amid the chaos

Kristie A. Kenney, the United States Ambassador to Thailand, commemorated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month together with people in the LGBT community and those who support diversity in Thailand. The reception was held at the Ambassador’s Residence in Bangkok on Thursday evening. “I hope you will find the opportunity to create new… Read more »

Welcome to TestBKK

Whether you’re single, in a new relationship, part of a couple or enjoying the company of many, whether you like to suck or prefer to fuck, we all need to take care of our sexual health and wellbeing. Apart from using condoms and water-based lubricant, getting tested regularly for HIV is an important part of… Read more »

Thai marriage equality bill unable to proceed due to political crisis

Progress in a marriage equality law in Thailand is stuck more because of the ongoing political crisis than any serious social opposition to same-sex couples marrying. Thailand already was in the forefront of Asian countries with a bill in parliament for acknowledging marriage equality. However, the prolonged fluid situation of current Thai politics which saw… Read more »

Thailand’s Intolerance of Its Own LGBT Community Will Surprise You

The Land of Smiles is a gay-friendly playground of brazen lady boys and sexual license, right? Well, not quite… Written by Per Liljas for Time Magazine. Thailand likes to project itself as an oasis of tolerance in a continent where roughly half of the countries outlaw homosexuality. It is one of only seven Asian signatories… Read more »

LGBT: What is a marriage but for ourselves?

Four women are living under the same roof, but each of them has a husband elsewhere who they are not living with. The documentary film called “Our Marriages”, describing how LGBT minorities suffer from the conventional Chinese concept of marriage, was shown at a screening event held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC)… Read more »

The two faces of Thai tolerance

Thailand’s Bangkok Post last week highlighted that while the country’s tourism authorities are trying to market Thailand as a gay-friendly destination urging gay visitors to “Go Thai. Be free”, local LGBT activists say the campaign disguises a darker reality that beneath the veneer of public tolerance, conservatism and discrimination remain rife. In an investigative report… Read more »

How Thailand and Vietnam are moving on same-sex ‘marriage’

What exactly is happening in Thailand and Vietnam on law reform to recognize gay and lesbian relationships? Doug Sanders reports from Bangkok and Hanoi While the focus has been on gay marriage in the West, same-sex partnership rights have also been on the move in South East Asia. We examine progress in Thailand and Vietnam,… Read more »

On the road to legalising same-sex relationships: Thailand and Vietnam

What exactly is happening in Thailand and Vietnam on law reform to recognise same-sex relationships? Doug Sanders, back home in Thailand from two weeks in Hanoi, reports. Thailand In the fall of 2012, the issue of legal recognition for same-sex relationships was taken up by the Committee on Legal Affairs, Justice and Human Rights of… Read more »

Thai university introduces two LGBT courses, a first in the ASEAN region

One of the top three universities in Thailand has introduced two LGBT courses, a breakthrough in the country and the region. Doug Sanders reports from Bangkok. On Saturday, July 6, around ten students met for the first time in the credit course “Voice of LGBT” in the graduate program in Women’s Studies at Thammasat University… Read more »