LGBTQ+ rights in Thailand & in The Netherlands

Picture by N. Pundt. Created with https://www.canva.com/ .

Welcome to our blog! Here you will be reading about the laws and legislations regarding the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community, but without all of the academic mumbo jumbo that you would expect from an academic paper for example. Essentially we will be looking at the extent to which there is acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community in Thailand and in The Netherlands. Both The Netherlands and Thailand are known to be two of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries. With the Netherlands being the first-ever country to legalise same-sex marriage, and Thailand being the most popular vacation destination for the LGBTQ+ community. They both participate in pride month and hold pride parades for the LGBTQ+ community. At first glance these countries seem very open and accepting towards LGBTQ+ people, but is this actually the case? Are these countries truly as accepting as they seem to be?

Keywords

Before we can answer any of these questions we need to have a look at some of the keywords that we will be encountering in this blog. Knowing the right definitions also helps avoid any misunderstandings on the topic.

What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation refers to the gender you are attracted to. This can be someone of the same gender as you, someone from the opposite gender, both or even none. Opinions on the correct definition are divided as some people see sexual orientation and gender as binary practices. That means that they are seen as either male or female. This theory leaves out other identities such as gender neutral, gender fluid, gender queer, etc. [5]

What is gender identity?

The personal idea of a someone’s own gender is called gender identity. Basically you are the one who senses what gender you have. Gender identity is a term originally created by Stoller in 1964. Wood [15] describes gender identity as a construct developed during your childhood that emerges through social interaction and certain biological processes. Meaning that a child learns to label themselves as either boy or girl. This can cause confusion and internal conflicts as some individuals have a different gender identity than the gender they were assigned at birth.

What does the term LGBTQ+ stand for?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary [9] LGBTQ+ is an abreviation that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and more . It is used as an umbrella term for all people whose sexual identity differs from the status quo, which is heterosexuality.

What countries will we be discussing?

Image by N. Pundt; Thailand and The Netherlands information. [2][3]

Understanding the LGBTQ+ acceptance in Thailand and The Netherlands

As mentionned before both The Netherlands and Thailand are known to be two of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries. With the Netherlands being the first-ever country to legalise same-sex marriage, and Thailand being the most popular vacation destination for the LGBTQ+ community. Both countries participate in pride month and hold pride parades for the LGBTQ+ community. To dive deeper into the topic we will discuss the history of LGBTQ+ rights in both countries.

Pride parade in Thailand. Picture from https://inmagazine.ca/2020/07/pride-of-amazing-thailand/

A piece of Dutch LGBTQ+ history

Even when looking at the history of the Netherlands, it has one of the most extensive LGBTQ+ histories compared to other countries. Religion played a big role in the LGBTQ+ community as Calvinism was the dominant religion in the Dutch Republic. The biblical name ‘sodomy’ was given towards relationships between two males. The Calvinist religion did not believe sodomy was being acted out in its religion, they thought this was something that belonged to Catholics and the Muslim religion. Sodomy was rarely talked about and not many people were convicted against the sodomy laws that were in place in the Dutch Republic. This all changed in the year 1730 when two men were convicted for sodomy acts. The conviction of these two men unveiled a big community of LGBTQ+ people and from then on, many people were reported for sodomy acts. A lot of people got executed for these acts [1].

Logo of the COC. Picture from https://www.coc.nl/coc_nederland_logo

When the French empire infiltrated the Dutch Republic and took over control, new policies were put into place. This was the first time that same-sex acts were not illegal anymore. Still, some people got reported and prosecuted for same-sex acts under the offence against ‘decency’ [6][13]. For more than a hundred years, there was no explicit law against sodomy. This changed when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and installed laws against same-sex acts. Again, many people were prosecuted and after the war, the prosecutions did not stop [1]. An organization called the Centre for Culture Leisure was brought together in 1946, after the second world war. The COC is an important organization that demonstrated for LGBTQ+ rights, and this organization still stands today. From 1946 onwards many activists have fought and still fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. One of the biggest successes of the activists was in 1991, when same-sex couples were able to officially registrate their partnership. Another was in 2001, when same-sex couples could legally get married. This made The Netherlands the first ever country to legalize same-sex marriage [8].

Understanding Thai LGBTQ+ history

To understand the view of Thai society on the LGBTQ+ community, you have to look at the history of Thailand. Thailand had a very different view in the past on LGBTQ than it does today. Thailand did not have the standards of ‘men’ and ‘women’ like we know in western society. So, they also did not have this idea of a couple as only a man and a woman being together. This all changed during the time of colonization. Many western countries colonized African, North and South American and Asian countries. Thailand has never been colonized itself, but the colonization of neighbouring countries and other countries it was closely related to, had a big impact on Thai society. Thailand was forced to westernize and ‘civilize itself’ [10]. The countries that were colonized needed to change their policies. In a lot of countries, it was now illegal for two men or two women to be in an open relationship [7]. The policies regarding LGBTQ+ in Thailand changed as well. The government forced women to wear dresses or skirts and forced men to wear trousers. They assigned a certain dressing style to a certain gender. The government only distinguished two genders, men and women. People who did not identify as either gender or did not feel comfortable with the assigned dressing style of their gender were seen as outcasts [10]. Even though most countries that have been colonized in the past are now independent nation-states, these western ideas have been imprinted in many societies and it is hard to let go of these ideas. This can also be seen in Thailand. Thailand claims to be an LGBTQ+ friendly country, but also in Thailand, people in the LGBTQ+ community are still discriminated against.

Acceptance vs. tolerance

As for The Netherlands, it seems like society accepts the LGBTQ+ community pretty well. The Netherlands is the origin country of many LGBTQ+ rights organisations and the popular Amsterdam Pride Parade is held every year to ask attention for LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance. However, The Netherlands lacks acceptance and understanding when it comes to Dutch legislation. Especially when protecting the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination and violence. Many people who have assaulted a person because of their sexuality are not persecuted, which makes violence against the LGBTQ+ society more common. Within families, LGTQ+ people are usually not accepted. People say they accept people who identify as LGBTQ+ but in reality, this does not apply to their own family members. So it seems that the acceptance in the Netherlands is very superficial [4]. Thailand is seen as the Gay capital of Asia. But how accepting of the LGBTQ+ community are the people in Thailand actually? In some ways, Thailand seems to accept LGBTQ+ people. You can find a lot of gay bars and restaurants and entertainment and events for lesbian and trans people are also very popular. So, on the surface, Thailand seems very accepting of LGBTQ+ people. However, this is usually not true with personal relationships. This is mainly an issue with the older generation who do not seem to accept LGBTQ+ family members easily. Also in Thailand, many parents still struggle with accepting their children as identifying as LGBTQ+. Also in school, teachers still discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and the LGBTQ+ community is also not accepted in top positions of Thai society. That is why many people say that Thailand is a tolerant country when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, but is not accepting [16].

Gay bar Thailand. Picture by Instagram user @thestrangerbarbkk.

Why should we care about this?

In modern day society there is still a lot of discrimination to the LGBTQ+ community. According to Ronan [11] from the Human Rights Campaign, the year 2021 is rumored to be the worst year in recent LGBTQ+ history. This is due to the fact that a total of seventeen anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been enacted in the United States.

Image by N. Pundt; Most Common Violations LGBTQ+ Community. Created with https://www.canva.com/ [14]

Authors: M. Peeters and N. Pundt.

Sources:

[1] Bos, J. (2020). Hellish evil, heavenly love: a long term history of same-sex sexuality and religion in the Netherlands. Public Discourses About Homosexuality and Religion In Europe and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-56326

[2] CIA. (October 2021). The World Factbook: Netherlands. Retrieved on October 20, 2021, from
https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/netherlands/

[3] CIA. (October 2021). The World Factbook: Thailand. Retrieved on October 19, 2021, from
https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/thailand/

[4] De Wit, J. (2018, Augsut 6). Acceptance of homosexuality in the Netherlands: then and now. Utrecht University. Retrieved on October 22, 2021, from https://www.uu.nl/en/news/acceptance-of-homosexuality-in-the-netherlands-then-and-now

[5] Hall, W. (2019). Sexual Orientation. Retrieved on September 21, 2021, from
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332079198_Sexual_Orientation

[6] Hekma, Gert. (1991). Honderd jaar homoseksuelen: documenten over de uitdoktering van homoseksualiteit. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis.

[7] Kapoor, A.K. (2021). Legacy of Oppression: Drawing the Connection between Colonization and Global LGBTQ Rights. SSRN. Retrieved on September 4, 2021, from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3884572

[8] Kollman, K. (2017) Pioneering marriage for same-sex couples in the Netherlands. Journal of European Public Policy, 24(1), 100-118.

[9] LGBTI. (n.d.). Cambridge Dictionary. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved on September 5, 2021, from
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/lgbti

[10] Ojanen, T., Ratanashevorn, R., & Boonkerd, S. (2016). Gaps in responses to LGBT issues in Thailand: Mental health research, services and policies. Psychology of Sexualities Review, 7(1), 41-59.

[11] Ronan, W. (May 2021). 2021 Officially Becomes Worst Year in Recent History for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks as Unprecedented Number of States Enact Record-Shattering Number of Anti-LGBTQ Measures Into Law. Retrieved on September 22, 2021, from
https://www.hrc.org/press-releases/2021-officially-becomes-worst-year-in-recent-history-for-lgbtq-state-legislative-attacks-as-unprecedented-number-of-states-enact-record-shattering-number-of-anti-lgbtq-measures-into-law

[12] Stoller, R. J. (1964). A contribution to the study of gender identity. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45, 220–226.

[13] Tielman, R. (1982). Homoseksualiteit in Nederland: studie van emancipatiebeweging. Meppel: Boom.

[14] United Nations. (n.d.). Global Issues: Human Rights. Retrieved on September 22, 2021, from
https://www.un.org/en/global-issues/human-rights

[15] Wood, W. (January 2009). Gender Identity. Retrieved on September 20, 2021, from
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232590393_Gender_identity

[16] Teeratanabodee, W. (2019, November 29). Thai Society Accepts LGBTQ People As Long As They Are Not Their Children. The Perspective. Retrieved on October 22, 2021, from https://www.theperspective.se/thai-society-accepts-lgbtq-people-as-long-as-they-are-not-their-children/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *