Public attitude towards LGBT

Tolerance = Acceptance? No

We all have a perception that Thailand is the paradise for LGBT because we can see lots of ladyboys and transgender people on TV shows and nightclubs. Though Thailand is often seen as gay-friendly by tourists, Thai society remains deeply conservative and there is little support for expanding gay rights. Acceptance by local people is just a myth!

What is the attitude of most Thais to LGBT?
According to a questionnaire, 51% university students agreed with the statement "transsexuals are men with something wrong with their mind"('The Transgender issue in the USA' 2009). According to a Ramkhamhaeng University Public Opinion Center poll, nearly 70% disapporove of legalizing gay marriage or allowing transsexuals to legally adopt their new gender on ID cards and passports ('The Transgender issue in the USA' 2009).

In fact, LGBT in Thailand is facing lots of discrimination.

1. Military enrolment:
Transgender are not allowed to serve in the army.
In 2006, the Minstry of Denfence branded tarnsgender drafftees as suffering from "permanent psychosis" in their military exemption documents. This can also affect their employment in the future (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada 2008). Transgender people are being labeled by the psychological problems "Mental disorder", "psychologically sock", "psychologically degenerate" ('Military might use "katoey" and "psychotic" ' 2011).

(Source: nbe0137 n.d.,

2. Employment: Limited career opportunities for LGBT
('The Transgender issue in the USA' 2009).
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As transgender people are not allows to change their gender in their ID , many employers do not want possible complications involved with hiring a transsexual if an equality "normal" person can be hired. Although many transgender people got a degree in Universities, they can only be a typical kinds of occupations traditionally held by women .
1. Cannot be hired in professional areas like Bankers and Lawyers
2. Common occupations: Makeup artists, hairdressers, cabaret showgirls, waitresses, sex workers, street vendors, performers

3. Education:
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Transgender people are pushed out by some schools.
  • In 1997, national wide group of teachers' colleges announced that "sexual deviants" would not be enrolled" (Likhitpreechakul 2008).
  • A well-known higher education institution in charge of Thailand's teaching universities banned transgender and homosexual students from attending their teacher training facilities (Armbrecht 2008).
  • A institution openly complained that transsexuals will post a bad influence on children.

4. Daily Lives:
LGBT people are regarded as second class citizens without receiving protection from the government and have limited social welfare. People received transgender surgey are named as "katoey" in Thailand. It is a rather negative word meaning "inauspicious" or "unlucky". Moreover, it is quit uncommon to see two Thai males in an open relationship together due to social pressure especially by family. There is rare criticism to LGBT by Thais publicly but negative comments are numerous in the Internet (Likhitpreechakul 2009).
Gay men face a frighteningly high HIV rate of 28%, there’s the erroneous fear of contagion (Bangkok Metblog, 2007).

Case studies:
1) Transsexual Thai air hostesses: gimmick or equality?

A Airline in Thailand recruit transsexuals as flight attendants. However, some of them regards as a gimmick to attract more people who feel curious about transgender people and help the airline to do advertisements.

2. Transgender toliets in Thailand

Really equality?
In 2008, Kampaeng High Shool installed transgender bathroom facilities. Some appreciate that the existance of transgender toilets is a recognition of a "third Sex". However, it indeed separate the trassexuals from the others and is intensifying gender inequality(Likhipreechakul 2008). Building transgender toilets itself is indirectly reflect there is inequality. The reason of building this toilet is because transgender people going to male's toilets always face harrassment. However, if they go to the women's toilet, the girls complain that they feel uncomfortable. Transgender people seems to be put in a difficult situation.

All in all, the problem for LGBT in Thailand is basically the invisibility and a lack of social awareness about them though many people ackowledge the existence of LGBT.