Being LGBT in Asia’ Thailand Country Report

Being LGBT in Asia’ Thailand Country Report

September 26, 2014

Thailand’s first report assessing the challenges facing and opportunities available for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities notes that LGBT people enjoy significant visibility in a generally tolerant and welcoming society. Nevertheless, LGBT people continue to encounter social stigma in various settings and are afforded limited job opportunities.

‘Being LGBT in Asia’ Thailand Country Report – a joint analysis by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – highlights a contradiction between Thailand’s public face of tolerance toward LGBT communities and the reality of discrimination toward them. The report found that while the tourism authority actively promotes Thailand as a gay-friendly tourist destination, acceptance of non-traditional sexualities in society is still perceived to be low.

The landmark report is the first comprehensive review and analysis of Thailand’s legal and social environment encompassing in-depth research on LGBT issues in the country.

According to the report, there is limited education about LGBT issues in schools and LGBT people live in a society where there is strong pressure to be a “good citizen” and put family concerns or interests before their own. This is compounded by the notion that one’s sexuality or gender must not go against accepted norms and should not bring shame to oneself or one’s family. Many of Thailand’s LGBT people remain in the closet, fearful of social stigma and discrimination.

The report also highlights that Thai transgender individuals cannot change their gender on identity papers, and male-to-female transgender people are often forced into military service. LGBT people face workplace discrimination, including being denied promotions or fired from their jobs after disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgender people are often limited in their employment options. Bullying in schools against LGBT people is very common. While the country’s constitution prohibits discrimination against citizens on any grounds, there are no laws that recognize LGBT relationships or parenthood and laws on marriage apply only to heterosexual couples.

The Thailand country report was produced as part of the ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ initiative launched on Human Rights Day in December 2012. It seeks to promote understanding of the fundamental challenges faced by LGBT people and organizations in Asia and to document the progress being made in anti-discrimination efforts. It also makes a series of recommendations that are designed to complement the findings in different topical areas.

‘Being LGBT in Asia’ is a regional collaboration between UNDP, USAID and LGBT civil society. Other UN agencies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and USAID country missions have also partnered with the initiative in individual countries. It is currently being implemented in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines and Viet Nam.

Download the report in English and Thai language

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