Friday, March 14, 2014

Thailand's LGBT Community

The short answer is it is getting easier to be open about your sexual orientation in Thailand. Like in many countries, life was not easy for homosexuals. Banned from joining the army, limited employment opportunities, excluded from certain schools and generally regarded as second class citizens was the norm before a more tolerant attitude started to take hold in the 1990’s. LGBT-pride festivals were openly promoted from 1999 onwards. However legislative support for gay marriage still remains a divisive issue. Buddhism, the majority religion in Thailand, seems quite relaxed about it. There is no social or moral code specifically relating to the issue and Buddhist monks can and do bless gay relationships. However such relationships are not legally recognised. Adoption and inheritance are clearly big challenges and not everyone is in favour of a change in the law. But change is afoot! There are some interesting statistics about how big the LGBT community is in Thailand. Numbers from the Mahadol Population Gazette/Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand estimates that there are over 10m LGBT people out of a total population of 64m. Out of the 10m, 6.8m are gays, 1.1m are lesbians and 2.1m are ‘unclassified’. There has also been a big growth in revenue from LGBT tourism. Apparently Thailand is the second most popular wedding destination for gay couples even though it is not legally recognised. [Couples will still have to have the legality confirmed in their home country. Sauna’s, Massage/Spa’s, Bars and discos specifically for Gays have increased steadily since 2000 again demonstrating Thailand’s tolerant attitude to the LGBT community.

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