The landmark December 2002 statement was issued in response to a
request by Anjaree, the
activist Thai lesbian organization. It has been the only Thai gay
organization to defend and promote gay/lesbian/transgender rights in
this Southeast Asian kingdom
"Such an official pronouncement by the
Mental Health Department should clear the air in the public debate about the
need to do away with social sanctions against people on the grounds of a
different sexual orientation.
"Although Thai society in general has shown remarkable tolerance toward
male-male and female-female relationships, the heterosexual majority
continues to stigmatize homosexual men and women. Unlike the homophobia
that is common in much of the rest of the world, anti-homosexual
sentiment in Thai society is relatively low key.
"Thanks to sustained efforts by homosexual
groups to promote a better understanding about their sexuality and the
support these groups provide for individual homosexual men and women,
the situation has improved considerably in recent years.
"Homosexual men and women are becoming
increasingly more visible in Thai society in all occupational and
professional groups, although many more in same-sex relationships choose
to keep their private lives under wraps.
"Most heterosexual people have learned to
become more sensitive and develop subtle ways in dealing with homosexual
people without being patronizing.
"Among homosexuals, some are content to stay
the closet' while others have little or no inhibitions about openly
displaying their different sexual orientation through their mannerisms
or the way they dress.
"Organized homophobic practices or hate
crimes against homosexuals are rare although misconceptions, myths and
stereotyped views about homosexual men and women continue to be
perpetuated by some quarters in the mass media.
"Most people find they are capable of
tolerating homosexuality in their colleagues at work, in their personal
friends and acquaintances, but are much less tolerant when it comes to
homosexuality in their own families.
"One sensitive area of concern for many
parents is whether their children's sexual inclinations can be
influenced by other homosexuals or whether homosexual tendencies are
biologically programmed from birth.
"These parental concerns are legitimate.
Professional counseling services must be made available to young people
who have doubts about their sexual orientation so that those who choose
to follow a homosexual path can lead fulfilling personal lives—just like
heterosexual teenagers may also need guidance on how to lead fulfilling
"The move toward more sensitivity,
compassion and understanding about homosexuality should not be too
difficult given the fact that Thailand is already one of the few
cultures that displays much less homophobia than the great majority [of