In Thailand, we believe that diversity is amazing…
Thailand is a recognized global leader when it comes to welcoming travellers of all backgrounds, identities and gender expressions. As the most welcoming country in Asia for LGBTQ+ people, Thailand is proud that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community – and all people, no matter how they identify and whom they love – feel free when travelling in Thailand. While many destinations claim to accept diversity in all its forms, there are still many countries that shun same-sex couples, or do not openly acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community publicly. Yet Thailand’s relaxed and warm sensibility embraces LGBTQ+ travellers, and encourages them to discover this magical place, travel freely and be comfortable.
What is it that makes Thailand so LGBTQ+ friendly?
Even today, many countries consider homosexuality to be a criminal act. Thailand’s attitude is very different. It is one of the most progressive Asian countries, with the Thai government decriminalizing homosexuality over 75 years ago. Considering global social norms at the time, this was a significant measure and affirmed the country’s receptiveness.
Some of its approach can be traced to its primarily Buddhist teachings, with approximately 95 per cent of its citizens identifying as Theravada Buddhists. The religion is well regarded for its underlying foundation of tolerance, and this principle helps influence Thailand’s attitude towards gender expression. But many believe that the exotic kingdom’s philosophy of life – ‘Sanuk Sabai’ – is what truly drives its acceptance of most things. The words ‘sanuk’ and ‘sabai’ translate to ‘slow, relaxed and happy.’ This is evidenced in all aspects of Thai culture, and the Thai people genuinely believe that one person’s right to a happy life should not interfere with another individual’s right to a happy life. This respect underpins interpersonal relations among the people of Thailand and the way they relate to visitors. It also includes respecting one’s happiness, which includes gender identity and self-expression.
Another governing principle is ‘mai pen rai,’ which teaches people to ‘never mind’ and ‘let it go,’ recognizing that some things cannot be avoided. This gentle acceptance of life, its attributes and challenges, is one of the most compelling reasons the exotic kingdom is so attractive to visitors.
Thailand is known as “the Land of Smiles.” While conventional wisdom suggests that the smile is intended to signify delight, in Thailand the smile has a social purpose. They say there are 13 different smiles used by Thai people, and non-Thais are sometimes confused by a Thai person’s ability to smile in almost every situation. That is because the smile is used not only as a greeting or when someone is amused, but is also used to defuse potentially difficult circumstances. In the face of aggression or anger, a smile is the first defence. The smile is also a way to ask forgiveness or beg someone’s pardon, and, in return, to forgive. In Thailand, there is a general avoidance of confrontation and victimization, which has created a society in which being gay is of little issue to most Thais. Instead, you will be greeted with a smile.
Thailand’s high-profile transgender community
Thailand’s highly visible transgender population lead otherwise ordinary lives and work in a variety of industries, unlike other countries in the region. This community thrives, particularly in Bangkok, which welcomes transgender people who may be persecuted or shunned in other countries. Thailand hosts the largest and oldest international transgender beauty pageant, Miss International Queen, drawing contestants from around the world and promoting beauty in all forms.
Diversity is what makes Thailand so unique and appealing – diversity of people, destinations, experiences and nature. Yes, there are internationally renowned LGBTQ+ events, beach parties and nightlife, but beyond that, the Kingdom offers rich culture, delicious food, unique local experiences, unparalleled luxury and wellness activities that are open to everyone no matter your sexual orientation or identity.
As we all dream of our future travels, let Thailand’s incredible diversity inspire you: gothaibefree.com/inspire