When it comes to talking about Asian LGBT news, stories coming from the region often are of the sadness and pain experienced by the community due to discrimination and prejudice. While good news is rare, it is always gratifying to talk about.
Thailand has its very first laws specifically passed to protect it’s LGBT community. The law came into effect this past Wednesday (September 9th), and the 2015 Gender Equality Act will punish discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Punishment can include up to 6 months jail time and a fine of twenty thousand Baht, which converts to a little over five hundred US dollars. While earlier drafts of the bill included exemptions for education, religion and public interest, they have since been removed.
This is a big deal. Discrimination based upon culture and upbringing is huge within the region, and to have a law that bars discrimination, and has set actions to deter people from perpetuating prejudice makes Thailand so much safer.
In the future, activists are pushing for a civil union’s bill, as well as a gender identity recognition bill, both of which will be making their way through the legislative process soon.
This law sets forth an example of model legislation for the region. As Thailand takes steps forward in considering further protections for the LGBT community, it is important to note that its neighbor’s activist groups and coalitions are often still working to reverse the criminalization of homosexuality. This good news is a breath of fresh air, but it is critical as we analyze the region to keep colonization and current governmental policy in mind.
This law barring discrimination is hopefully the first step forward not just for Thailand, but for the rest of the region as it propels itself forward for equality.
Sources: Gay Star News
Mehek Naresh is an Indian American lesbian, living and working in Florida after recently graduating with a Bachelors in Political Science. Her hobbies seeking out small talk with cashiers, reading, and spending more time staring at tumblr than she’d care to admit.