Thailand's blossoming gay community is generating new business opportunities, including bars and cafes. In 2018, the Tourism Authority of Thailand launched a campaign targeting LGBT visitors, involving ‘roadshows’ in Asia, Europe and the US. Thailand hosts one of Asia's large communities of LGBT people, with an estimated 4.5 million individuals (source: LGBT Capital (2018)).
But the country still has some way to go in terms of embracing this community. In mid-December, the Bangkok Post reported that activist Ekkawat Pimsawan submitted a proposal to legalise same-sex marriage to the opposition Pheu Thai party in a bid to draw attention to the issue.
"We gain a partial acceptance from the society," Kittinan Tharamathat, president of the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, an LGBT rights group, told the Nikkei Asian Review. "In other words, we're allowed to have a certain place to convey our message, but actually we don't have rights to any legal protections," he said.
Kittinan has for years been at the forefront of fighting for LGBT legal rights in Thailand. He has pushed a civil partnerships bill to allow same-sex marriage since 2004, but it has yet to receive parliamentary approval. Lawmakers attribute the delay to the bureaucratic legislative process.
However, a report by United Nations Development Program and the US Agency for International Development in 2014 concluded that lawmakers tend to be conservative and that existing laws are viewed as inviolable. This makes policy development and legal reform more difficult.
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