An LGBTI Oasis? Discrimination in Thailand

On Nov 1, 2016 The Diplomat reported: Thailand passed its first equality law in 2015, but still has a long way to go to protect the rights of the community.

BANGKOK — When she arrived in Bangkok, Pet never imagined that she would lose her job because of her sexual identity. “[At school] they said: Miss Pet, we are very sorry, but we didn’t know that you are transsexual,” she recalls, visibly disappointed.

The teacher, of Filipino origin, thought of Thailand as a tolerant country regarding gender diversity. The Thai tourism authorities welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals, and Bangkok is often the only Asian city included on lists of gay-friendly tourist destinations worldwide. In addition, the country is well known for its cheap and good quality gender reassignment operations, and holds an annual beauty pageant for transgender people, Miss Tiffany’s Universe.

Unlike some of its neighbors in the region, there is no law against homosexuality in Thailand and transgender people can express their identity publicly without fear of persecution. But the rights of the community are far from equal to those of the rest of society. For starters, transgender individuals are not legally recognized, while marriage between two people of the same sex has no legal validity.

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Transgender people in Thailand can’t change the sex on their identity card, even after undergoing complete sexual reassignment surgery. This inability to officially change their gender leaves them continually open to abuse for the rest of their lives.

As a result transgender people face problems when they are required to show their identity cards for routine acts such as opening a bank account or traveling abroad, because their appearance does not correspond with the gender on their documents. Others are simply stigmatized, as Pet was.

Read more at An LGBTI Oasis? Discrimination in Thailand | The Diplomat

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