Thailand’s first law specifically protecting LGBTI people came into effect on Wednesday (9 September).
The junta-appointed parliament passed the 2015 Gender Equality Act in March, which punishes discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation with up to six months in jail and a 20,000 baht fine.
The law defines ‘unfair discrimination among the sexes’ as any action that segregates, obstructs or limits the rights of a person because they are ‘male or is female or has a sexual expression different from that person’s original sex.’
The exemptions in education, religion and the public interest were removed from an earlier draft of the law.
The act was launched at the beginning of the week at a three-day workshop attended by 400 participants attended, including representatives from civil society, government ministries, legal experts and media.
Director-General of the Department of Family Affairs and Family Development, Somchai Charoenamnuaysuk, noted that the law bars government agencies, private organizations, or individuals from formulating anti-gay policies, rules, regulations, measures, projects or operating procedures.
‘Cooperation from all sectors is key in moving forward with the enforcement of this Act in order to create an equal and just society,’ he said.
‘The public plays an important role in keeping a watchful eye on cases of discrimination, providing support to LGBTI people, as well as ensuring compliance with the rules, regulations and measures.’
A civil unions bill and new constitution that recognizes transgender people are also under consideration.