The reasons for holding the Miss Coral Queen pageant as explained this week are wholesome.
The fact that it is the Phuket chapter of the Red Cross Society of Thailand hosting the event is a factor to be proud of, leading the way against discrimination of any trans people.
Also of significance is that it was the chief of the Phuket office of the Ministry of Culture – not an NGO or any rights-focussed organisation – stepping up to explain the decision to host the event.
Thailand is making some progress in the advancement of LGBT rights, as with the introduction of Gender Equality Act in 2015. For those who may not know, since that act came into effect it is illegal in Thailand for anyone to engage in gender or sexual orientation discrimination. Those found guilty will face up to six months behind bars or a B20,000 fine, or both.
The new law states that “unfair discrimination among the sexes” is any act which “segregates, obstructs or limits the rights” of a person because they have “a sexual expression different from that person’s original sex”.
And rightly so. No one needs to hear again the ridiculous tale of Anwar Ibrahim’s not one, but two sodomy trials that spanned nearly two decades in the country immediately to Thailand’s south. Worse was the horror of a 13-year-old boy shooting dead a schoolmate for being bullied by being repeatdly called a 'toot' - the lowest derogatory term for a ladyboy.
Yet, as pointed out by Mr Kormet, the attitude on the streets and among everyday people is what counts most. If discrimination stops there, there would be no need for such laws.
Mr Kormet also rightly pointed out that Thailand still has a long way to go, such as with the legal right to same-sex marriage. We look forward to Thailand joining the international community on that front soon.
People come from around the world to enjoy natural beauty of Thailand, and its people. The general attitude is acceptance, but sadly that is not always the case. Many ladyboys find themselves in tourist hotbeds such as Phuket and Pattaya for the simple reason that they can just be themselves here – something not so acceptede in their rural villages back home.
If the Miss Coral Queen pageant plays any part in breaking down those barriers, we support it. The pageant is unlikely to become as popular as the famous Miss Tiffany’s Universe pageant in Pattaya, which makes headlines around the world, but it does bode for a good start.