When it comes to LGBT rights and acceptance, Thailand is a leading force in Asia and the rest of the world. Right on the heels of news that the country's top university has introduced a mandatory class on transgender issues, a sweeping non-discrimination law came into effect yesterday.
The 2015 Gender Equality Act, which was passed in parliament in March, makes discrimination against people based on gender identity or sexual orientation punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of 20,000 baht (roughly $550). An early draft included exemptions in education and religion, but they were removed before the bill's approval, making way for all-encompassing law that has now taken effect.
In conjunction with yesterday's implemenation, a three-day workshop was held this week to educate members of government, law, and the media. Somchai Charoenamnuaysuk, Director-General of the Department of Family Affairs and Family Development, explained that the new law prohibits any organization or individual from discriminatory policies. He went on to say:
"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."
On the docket for legislative consideration are also a civil union bill, and the inclusion of a third gender in the new national constitution.