Thailand

Here are some interesting news stories from Thailand:

Bangkok a ticking HIV time bomb for gays?  Gay males remain neglected for medical care.

From the U.S. State Department Human Rights Report 2012:

The constitution provides for equal treatment without respect to race, gender, religion, disability, language, or social status but does not provide for equal treatment without respect to sexual orientation or gender identity. In practice some discrimination existed, and government enforcement of equal protection statutes continued to be uneven.

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

No laws criminalize sexual orientation or consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups were able to register with the government, although there were some restrictions on the wording used in registering their group names. They reported that police treated LGBT victims of crime the same as other persons except in the case of sexual crimes, where there continued to be a tendency to downplay sexual abuse or not to take harassment seriously.

The law does not permit transgender individuals to change their gender on identification documents. Nonetheless, in August the Interior Ministry allowed an intersex person, Sirilada Khotphat, to change her listed gender from male to female, the first such decision. In addition, on May 27, voters elected Yollada Suanyot to the Nan Provincial Administration as the country’s first transgender provincial councilor, sparking public debate about identification policy due to civil service dress code requirements–Yollada has lived as a woman since age 16 but continued to carry her male birth name on her identity card.

In September 2011 Bangkok’s Central Administrative Court ordered the Ministry of Defense to stop describing transgender persons as “permanently mentally disabled” in conscription records. The military complied, and personnel records reportedly indicate “current sexual status contrary to sexual status at birth.” Some rights advocates considered this a significant step toward reducing the harmful effects on future employment opportunities caused by the terms formerly used in such records.

For the first time, university rectors permitted five transgender students to participate in the August 30 commencement ceremony for Thammasat University’s graduating class while wearing gender-specific uniforms of their choice. This decision set a precedent followed by several other educational institutions during the year. Such permissions remained voluntary for each school.

There was some continued commercial discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, some life insurance companies refused to issue policies to gay men, although at least four of 23 companies sold policies to LGBT citizens with provisions for full transfer of benefits to same-sex partners. NGOs alleged that some nightclubs, bars, hotels, and factories denied entry or employment to gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals.

From the U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports, 2010:

Thailand:

Cultural events may be censored, usually for reasons of public decency. Under the 2008 Film Act, the state is authorized to ban the release of movies that “offend the monarchy, threaten national security, hamper national unity, insult faiths, disrespect honorable figures, challenge morals, or contain explicit sex scenes.” Section 25 of the act stipulates that all films to be screened, rented, exchanged, or sold in the country must be screened and approved by the Film and Video Classification Committee. The film Insects in the Backyard, which tells the story of a transgendered single father and features scenes with child prostitutes and homosexual sex, was banned by the Culture Ministry’s National Film Board for immorality and scenes considered pornographic. Additionally, theater owners and broadcasters frequently censored films before submitting them to the board. As part of the 2008 act, a seven-tiered rating system was introduced in August 2009. Movie theaters also had to apply for operation licenses by September 2009 or pay up to one million baht ($31,250) in fines. There were no reports that fines were levied or any other restrictions acted upon during the year.

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

There are no laws that criminalize sexual orientation. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups were able to register with the government, although there were some restrictions on the language that can be used in registering their group names. They reported that police treated LGBT victims of crime as any other person except in the case of sexual crimes, where there was a tendency to downplay sexual abuse or not take harassment seriously.

There was continued discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Thai Red Cross would not accept blood donations from gay men. Some life insurance companies refused to issue policies to gay persons, although four major insurance companies agreed to sell life insurance policies to LBGT citizens with full transfer of benefits to same-sex partners. According to military sources, the armed forces did not draft gay or transgendered persons because of the assumed detrimental effect on the military’s strength, image, and discipline. The official rejection rationale recorded in military documentation was “Type 3–Sickness That Cannot Be Cured Within 30 Days,” as opposed to the previously utilized “Type 4–Permanently Disabled or Mentally Ill.” The law does not permit transgendered individuals to change their gender on identification documents. Some major businesses did not allow transgendered persons to use their preferred bathrooms. NGOs also alleged that some nightclubs, bars, hotels, and factories denied entry or employment to gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals.

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