Last edited: June 10, 2004

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 hit.

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