After a year of deliberations and useless chatter, the Constitutional Court struck down the hope of an entire community when it ruled this week that marriage was a union only between heterosexual couples.
It was a decision that was quickly condemned by many sides.
The ruling comes despite Thailand’s reputation as a ‘gay paradise’ and despite widespread recognition of the rights of the gay community by Thai society at large.
Emily Pradichit, an international human rights lawyer who has been advocating for LGBTQ+ rights since 2009 and the Founder of Manushya Foundation told Thai Enquirer that during the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review on human rights, Thailand received 12 UPR recommendations on LGBTQ+ rights, including four recommendations to amend section 1448 to recognize same-sex marriage by France, Iceland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
It seems these recommendations fell on deaf ears.
It is ironic considering Thailand’s attempts to actively promote the country as an LGBTQ+ friendly nation. The Tourism Authority of Thailand even launched a website for their Go Thai Be Free campaign in January 2019 to reach out to LGBTQ+ travelers.
It is doubly ironic considering how progressive Thailand’s entertainment industry has become in the past few years.
The country has also become known around the region for its boys-love TV and web series which depict relationships between male characters. The widely viewed shows are a hit around Asia. Miss Tiffany’s Universe pageant in Pattaya also presents Thailand as a progressive country to the world.
This hard-earned reputation now are at risk because of the court’s decision.
For Siroj Hengphasatporn and Sean Smith, who have waited years to get married, the result was another blow
“Marriage equality should be normalized. It should not be something that we have to call for,” the couple told Thai Enquirer.
“It’s not even difficult. What makes it difficult is the people who complicate our genders.”
Phuttachart Luang-On, a 28-year-old LGBTIQ+ person told Thai Enquirer about his struggle to come out as gay.
“I don’t see where this is heading,” Puttachart said. “Thailand is a very hypocritical and conservative country. People’s willingness to open up to something they don’t understand is very low.”