Thailand to recognize 'third gender' in new constitution: panel

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

22 PHOTOS
Thailand third gender
See Gallery
Thailand to recognize 'third gender' in new constitution: panel
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND - 2014/04/13: A Thai 'lady boy' dressed in a traditional costume performs a traditional dance in a street procession during the Songkran festival. The Songkran festival, which is the traditional Thai new year, is celebrated annually in Thailand from April 13-15. (Photo by Atid Kiattisaksiri/LightRocket via Getty Images)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 07: The Lady Boys of Bangkok cabaret show takes place at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on August 7, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festivals in the world, it was established as an alternative to the International Festival also held in August, and celebrates it's 66th anniversary this year. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
PATTAYA, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 21: A Thai ladyboy stands in the red light district of Pattaya, Thailand September 21, 2014. Pattaya is tackling sex tourism and crime as the city attempts to clean up it's image doing nightly arrests in the popular sex tourism district called the Walking Street. Ladyboy sex workers are being targeted by police who are assisted by members of the Foreign Tourist Police Assistants (FTPA). They are fined 300 Thai bhat ( almost $10 US). (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
PATTAYA, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 21: A Thai ladyboy is round up by police during a nightly sweep in the red light district September 21, 2014 in Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya is tackling sex tourism and crime as the city attempts to clean up it's image doing nightly arrests in the popular sex tourism district called the Walking Street. Ladyboy sex workers are being targeted by police who are assisted by members of the Foreign Tourist Police Assistants (FTPA). They are fined 300 Thai bhat ( almost $10 US). (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
PATTAYA, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Thai ladyboys sign forms while being detained, before heading to the police station September 21, 2014 in Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya is tackling sex tourism and crime as the city attempts to clean up it's image doing nightly sweeps in the popular red-light district called the Walking Street. Ladyboy sex workers are being targeted by police who are assisted by members of the Foreign Tourist Police Assistants (FTPA). They are fined 300 Thai bhat ( almost $10 US). (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
PATTAYA, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Thai ladyboys check their makeup while detained before heading to the police station September 21, 2014 in Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya is tackling sex tourism and crime as the city attempts to clean up it's image doing nightly sweeps in the popular red-light district called the Walking Street. Ladyboy sex workers are being targeted by police who are assisted by members of the Foreign Tourist Police Assistants (FTPA). They are fined 300 Thai bhat ( almost $10 US). (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 8: Pom, a ladyboy dancer at the Chiang Mai Cabaret show performs on stage September 8, 2012 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Cabaret show is the only one in Chiang Mai, Thailand's 2nd largest city, performed daily on a stage at a small theater. Kathoeys or ladyboys are very visible, and widely accepted in Thai culture, often called the third gender. Many find employment performing for tourists in Cabaret shows while several popular Thai models, singers and movie stars are also kathoeys. The term Kathoey can refer to males who exhibit varying degrees of femininity most of the kathoeys dress as women and undergo medical procedures such as breast implants, hormones, silicone injections. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND - SEPTEMBER 8: A ladyboy dancer takes a glue gun to her bra trying to quickly fix her costume backstage before a performance September 8, 2012 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Cabaret show is the only one in Chiang Mai, Thailand's 2nd largest city, performed daily on a stage at a small theater. Kathoeys or ladyboys are very visible, and widely accepted in Thai culture, often called the third gender. Many find employment performing for tourists in Cabaret shows while several popular Thai models, singers and movie stars are also kathoeys. The term Kathoey can refer to males who exhibit varying degrees of femininity most of the kathoeys dress as women and undergo medical procedures such as breast implants, hormones, silicone injections. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2014/11/07: Contestant Lilia Kisaraji of Japan prepares backstage before the final show of the Miss International Queen 2014 transgender beauty pageant at Tiffany's Show theatre in Pattaya city. Contestants from 18 countries in the week-long event for the crown of Miss International Queen 2014, 10th year anniversary of Miss International Queen transgender beauty pageant. (Photo by Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Transvestite beauty pageant contestants line up for judges during the final competition at Miss Tiffany's Universe Friday, May 15, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)i
FILE - In this May 15, 2009 file photo contestants gather on stage during competition at the Miss Tiffany's Universe contest in Pattaya, Thailand. The annual transvestite beauty pageant attracts contestants from all over Thailand. Thailand has issued rules making sex change surgery more difficult, including a requirement that potential candidates cross-dress for a year, over fears that some patients are rushing into the operation, a medical association said Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009. (AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)
Sorrawee Nattee, 20, of Thailand, weeps as she is crowned Miss Tiffany's Universe 2009 in Pattaya, Thailand, Friday, May 15, 2009, by last year's winner Kangsadarn Wongkurusakul. Nattee edged out 29 other transvestites to win the annual event. All contestants in the competition were born male. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
A performer waits in the backstage at the Miss International Queen 2009 transvestite beauty pageant Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand. The transvestite beauty pageant attracts contestants from around the world. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Sunny Dee-Lite of the United States competes in the evening gown category at the Miss International Queen 2009 transvestite beauty pageant Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand. Sunny Dee-Lite won best evening gown in the transvestite pageant that attracts contestants from around the world. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Japan's Haruna Ai reacts to winning the at the Miss International Queen 2009 transvestite beauty pageant Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand. (AP Photo/DAvid Longstreath)
Japan's Haruna Ai is crowned Miss International Queen 2009 t Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009, in Pattaya, Thailand. (AP Photo/DAvid Longstreath)
Miss International Queen 2013 transvestite beauty pageant participants, from left; Nethnapada Kanrayanon of Thailand, Marcelo Ohio of Brazil, Satsuki Nishiyama of Japan, Kristina Cassandra Ybarra of the Philippines and Tanya Maung of Myanmar pose during a backstage photo at the Miss International Queen 2013 transvestite beauty pageant in Pattaya, southeastern Thailand Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. Twenty-five contestants from 17 countries participate in this year's pageant which has been held for nine respective years. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
Marcelo Ohio of Brazil gets an instruction from Miss International Queen 2012 Kevin Balot of the Philippines after winning the Miss International Queen 2013 transvestite beauty pageant in Pattaya, southeastern Thailand Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
PATTAYA, CHONBURI, THAILAND - 2014/05/02: Transgender contestants compete during the Miss Tiffany's Universe transgender beauty contest in Pattaya. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Tiffany's show in Pattaya and this was the 16th Miss Tiffany Universe contest with all of the transsexual or transvestite contestants, aiming to promote human rights for the trans-gender population in Thailand. (Photo by Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images)
PATTAYA, CHONBURI, THAILAND - 2014/05/02: A candidate prepares and poses for a photo backstage of the Miss Tiffany Universe contest 2014 in Pattaya. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Tiffany's show in Pattaya and this was the 16th Miss Tiffany Universe contest with all of the transsexual or transvestite contestants, aiming to promote human rights for the trans-gender population in Thailand. (Photo by Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2014/03/26: Candidates during qualification for the transvestite and transgender beauty pageant Miss Tiffany Universe 2014. About 70 candidates registered for the contest. The Miss Tiffany Universe contest has been running for 16 years, with all of the transexual or transvestite contestants, aiming to promote human rights for the transgender population in Thailand. (Photo by Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

(Reuters) - Thailand's constitution will include the term "third gender" for the first time, a member of a panel drafting a new charter said on Thursday, in a move to empower transgender and gay communities and ensure them fairer legal treatment.

Thailand has a large gay community, but remains largely conservative, although homosexual, transgender and transsexual people play key roles in its entertainment industry.

Thai law does not recognize same-sex unions, which keeps gay couples from taking joint bank loans and medical insurance, besides barring changes to gender categories on national identity papers.

The Constitution Drafting Committee, a group hand-picked by the military to prepare a new constitution after the previous one was scrapped following a May coup, began work this week.

Panel spokesman Kamnoon Sittisamarn said the new measure would ensure all sexual identities were protected under the constitution and treated equally by the law.

"We are putting the words 'third gender' in the constitution because Thai society has advanced," he told Reuters.

"There are not only men and women, we need to protect all sexes. We consider all sexes to be equal."

The panel will send details of the measure to the National Reform Council by April. It will need to be formally approved by the ruling junta, also known as the National Council for Peace and Order.

In 2012, a group of lawmakers and LGBT activists formed a committee to draft legislation recognizing same-sex couples that would, among other things, enable them to marry.

But discussion of the draft law was put on ice while Thailand struggled with political protests in 2013 and 2014.

Gay rights activists welcomed the decision to include the term "third gender" in the new constitution.

"It would treat all citizens equally and help to protect from discrimination in all areas including ease of doing business and also personal life," said prominent gay activist Natee Teerarojjanapongs.

The army seized power on May 22 to restore order after months of political infighting that killed nearly 30 people. It scrapped a 2007 constitution for an interim charter giving the military sweeping powers, and protection for the coupmakers.

(Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners