Bangkok: The Thai LGBT community encounters great social stigma and limited job opportunities despite the country’s tourism authority actively promoting Thailand as a gay-friendly tourist destination, says a recent international report.
Released Sept. 16, the ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ Thailand Country Report “highlights a contradiction between Thailand’s public face of tolerance toward LGBT communities and the reality of discrimination toward them,” according to th.undp.org.
The report by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) found that while the tourism authority actively promotes Thailand as a gay-friendly tourist destination, acceptance by society at large of LGBT members is still perceived to be low.
“Thailand is one of the few countries in the Asia-Pacific region where the LGBT community has high visibility. But visibility does not always translate to equality,” said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Thailand, Luc Stevens.
The landmark report is considered the first comprehensive review and analysis of Thailand’s legal and social environment encompassing in-depth research on local LGBT issues.
The report states that there is limited education about LGBT issues in schools and the popular notion that one’s sexuality or gender must not go against accepted norms or bring shame to oneself or one’s family. Hence, many Thai LGBT people remain in the closet, fearful of social stigma and discrimination, the report added.
The report also highlighted how Thai transgender individuals cannot change their gender on identity papers and are often conscripted 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,” according to th.undp.org.
Bullying in schools against LGBT people is also very common and while the Thai law 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, it added.
The Thailand country report is part of the ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ initiative that seeks to promote understanding of the fundamental challenges faced by LGBT people and organizations in Asia.
‘Being LGBT in Asia’ is a regional collaboration between UNDP, USAID and local LGBT civil society. Such initiatives are currently being implemented in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.