Civil society groups join together to ask Thais to stand up, speak out, support LGBTI people in Thailand
Despite Thailand’s reputation as a model for tolerance and openness, discrimination, inequality and exclusion remain the ugly reality for hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Thailand.
In advance of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), an occasion that unites more than 100 countries worldwide in condemning LGBTI rights violations, we call on the Thai government and citizens alike to bridge this gap between reputation and reality.
On IDAHOT 2015, we must join together to stand up for equality; speak out against discrimination; stop the violence and lend support to the LGBTI community, particularly youth.
In particular, we call for urgent action in these three core areas:
Despite significant advances, there are still too few legislated safeguards in place to protect the rights of Thailand’s LGBTI community and to ensure equality. We propose the following steps toward equality:
- Thailand’s anti-discrimination laws must be updated to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
- While recognizing the rights of transgender people to self-identify, the Gender Equality Bill must also ensure equality in areas where it’s not currently mandated, including education and religion.
- Transgender people should be able to change their gender on identity papers.
- Thai labour policy must respond to the rampant discrimination and barriers to entry LGBTI people face in the workplace, and to ensure same-sex couples’ equal standing with heterosexuals in accessing social services, spousal insurance, and other benefits.
- In addition to the right to marry, LGBTI people should also have the same opportunity to enjoy nurturing family lives as heterosexuals, with the same parental rights and access to social benefits as well as educational measures to promote greater acceptance within families themselves.
LGBTI health and well-being
Due to a host of factors, chief among them marginalization, Thailand’s LGBTI community is prey to significant threats to their physical and mental well-being. To address these, we call for action that ensures:
- Improved health services and educational outreach to combat a rising HIV epidemic among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). (Young men are at the greatest risk of exposure to HIV infection – HIV prevalence for those under 25 is 5.3%. Transgender women also face a higher risk of HIV infection).Discrimination in the health system, particularly in hospitals, must also be eliminated.
- Increased funding for rights-based LGBTI programmes and services on health more broadly, beyond those that support HIV prevention, treatment and care.
- Specific and sensitive healthcare services for transgender people. In particular, all aspects of female-to-male surgery must be raised to the same standard as male-to-female surgeries – from initial treatment to follow-up and long-term care.
- Strengthened mental health and counselling services providing clinically competent and affirming health care services for LGBTI clients.
- Self-determination and body autonomy for intersex persons.
Supporting LGBTI Youth
LGBTI youth need our support to ensure that they are able to avoid the dangers of marginalization and thrive academically and socially in a nurturing environment that embraces diversity. To that end, we call for:
- Urgent action to address homophobic bullying, which is rampant in Thai schools, with nearly six out of 10 LGBT youth facing it, according to a recent Mahidol University-Plan International-UNESCO study.
- Students to be allowed to wear uniforms that correspond to the gender with which they self-identify or reconsideration of the need for uniforms.
- The review and removal of classroom learning materials that portray LGBTI people as deviants or in other stereotypical terms.
- Support for youth organizations and networks providing outreach and support to LGBTI youth across a range of needs.
- The creation of safe spaces for LGBTI youth in educational settings and in publicly supported venues where they are able to freely express their identity.
Find out more at http://en.idahotthailand.org
Anjaree Foundation, Asia-Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN), Bangkok Rainbow Organization (BRO), Buku's Gender, Sexuality and Human Rights Classroom, Family Health International (FHI), Galaya Club, International Program of Art Therapy in Thailand (IPATT), Love Pattaya, M Plus, Path 2 Health (P2H), Plan International Thailand, Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand (RSAT), Sangsan Anakot Yawachon Development Project (SAYDP), Service Workers In Group Foundation (SWING), Togetherness for Equality Action (TEA), The HIV Foundation, Thai Sexuality Diversity Network (TSDN), Transmen Alliance of Thailand, Youth LEAD, Youth Voices Count (YVC)