Thai Government to Ask TV Stations to Reduce Gay Portrayals
Canadian Press, June 5, 2004
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)—Thailand’s
Culture Ministry will ask television stations in the country to reduce
portrayals of homosexual behaviour, describing it as “sexually deviant,”
the Nation newspaper reported Saturday.
It quoted the No. 2 bureaucrat in the ministry, Kla
Somtrakul, as saying that some television programs showed blatant homosexual
behaviour which, if left unchecked, could cross the line of decency.
The ministry will send a letter next week requesting
television stations not to air “sexually deviant” homosexual messages, but
the final decision would be left to the stations, the Nation said.
“Many parents told me that they are worried that their
children would have sexually deviant behaviour after viewing such behaviours
on TV,” Kla was quoted as saying.
Kla or other ministry officials were not immediately
available for comment.
Although Thailand is a conservative Buddhist society,
homosexuality and cross-dressing is widely tolerated and transvestite cabaret
shows are a popular tourist attraction.
Television portrayal of gays is usually comic in nature
with male actors appearing in women’s clothes or effeminate male characters
prancing about while waving hands, fluttering eyelashes and talking with
exaggerated minced accents.
The Nation quoted some television producers as saying
that they would co-operate with the proposed directive, even though they
dismissed the ministry’s concerns.
“There is a third sex in the world and TV shows merely
reflect reality,” Yutthana Lophanpaibul, an openly gay television director,
was quoted as saying.
“Maybe there are too many male comedians dressing in
women’s costumes. If so, then they should cut them down,” he said.
Last year, the Thai military decided to exempt gay men
and transvestites from the draft, fearing they could undermine the armed
forces. In the past, gays and transvestites have been drafted but later fired
after being found unable to adjust to army life.
A Thai movie, Saving Private Tootsie, about some soldiers
who rescue a group of gay men after their aircraft crashes in a remote jungle,
was a big success in Thailand last year.
Iron Ladies, a film based on the true story of a highly
successful transvestite volleyball team, became an internationally acclaimed