Letter to Thai Officials: Killings of Lesbian Women and Transgender People in Thailand

Read the press release »

Mr. Somchai Charoen-amnuaysuk, Inspector General
Ministry of Social Development and Human Security
Office of Women’s Affairs And Family Development
255 Radjwithi Road, Thung PhayaThai, Rajthewi, Bangkok 10400
Tel : +66 2 306 8746
Fax: +66 2 306 8747
Email: society@m-society.go.th

Pol. Gen. Priewpan Damapong
Office of the Commissioner General, Royal Thai Police
1st Bldg, 7th Fl., Royal Thai Police, Rama 1 Rd.,
Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: +66 (0) 2205 3701-3, 2205 2689, 2251 4730, 2251 6831
Fax: +66 (0) 2251 4731, 2251 4951

Dr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand
443 SriAyudhya Road, Bangkok 10400
Tel : +66 2 643 5000
Fax : +66 2 643 5320
Email: minister@mfa.go.th

March 22, 2012

Re: Killings of Lesbian Women and Transgender People in Thailand

Dear Mr. Charoen-amnuaysuk, Gen. Damapong, and Dr. Tovichakchaikul,

I write to you from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), a twenty-two year-old human rights organization with offices around the world, to express our shock at the gruesome murders and rape of lesbians and tomboys in Thailand between 2006 and 2012.1 IGLHRC is further shocked by the failure of the Thai authorities to prevent these egregious human rights violations, persisting over the last six years, and which Thai police have tended to dismiss as crimes of passion, love gone wrong, or the fault of the victims.

  1. On December 4, 2011 in Pattani province, 24-year old Nurisan Chedurame, described as a tomboy by those who knew her, was found dead near the village garbage dump with her head smashed in. A three-inch club was found at the crime scene. Relatives said that Nurisan had not returned from being out with friends the night before. Police suspected she was killed because “she was involved with women.”2
  2. On December 2, 2011 in Chonburi province, the decomposed body of 25-year old Kanchana Changkwian, a tomboy, was found two months after she went missing. Police speculated that Kanchana had been raped and murdered “for becoming involved with a married woman.”3
  3. On August 6, 2011 in Suphanburi province, the body of an unidentified tomboyish woman with tattoos was found in an irrigation canal. She had been slashed in the face by a machete, strangled with a rope, and dumped. Forensics examination indicated she had been killed five days earlier.4
  4. On June 28, 2011 in Trat province, a tom (un-named) was murdered by her girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. Parents and relatives of the girlfriend (un-named) had opposed the relationship, and despite threats against the tom, had failed to stop the couple from continuing to see each other. The mother of the girlfriend engineered the murder of the tom and promised to marry off her daughter to the ex-boyfriend who committed the murder.5
  5. On June 27, 2011 in Samut Sakhon province, two women believed to be in a same sex relationship were executed in a rice field. The tomboyish woman (un-named) was shot four times in the head, and her 17-year old partner, (un-named) was shot twice in the head. Police speculated that the execution-style killings were “caused by a soured love affair.”6
  6. On March 17, 2009 in Chachoengsao province, a Laotian tomboy (name withheld) was raped and strangled to death by a Laotian man with whom she had been drinking.7
  7. On January 24, 2009 in Narathiwat province, 28-year old Wilasinee Naesee was found suffocated with a plastic bag over her head. She had also been cut multiple times with a sharp object. Wilasinee had been missing from home for two days. Police suspected her murder was “because of sexual affairs.”8
  8. On January 15, 2009 in Chiang Mai province, 17-year old Orn-uma Wongprachit and her tomboy partner, 17-year old Marisa Srisawa, were found dead. They had been stabbed over sixty times. Orn and Marisa worked at a karaoke bar to support their families. Police said they had been killed by a man, “attracted to one of the women and felt disdainful of the lesbian relationship.”9
  9. On April 7, 2008 in Nakhon Ratchasima province, the half naked body of a senior school teacher, Takkhinawisut Ritthidet, was discovered in her home. Her head had been smashed in several places. Police said, she had been killed by someone known to her since there was no sign of forced entry or theft.10
  10. On March 25, 2008 in Chiang Mai province, Kannikar Suphasri was gang raped, strangled and burned by three male drug dealers. Police say she was allegedly a drug dealer involved in a money dispute with the killers, and lured to the crime scene by one of the men who “fancied her.” All three men committed the rape and burning.11
  11. On March 5, 2008 in Bangkok, 42-year old Paphatsorn Phiu-ondee was gunned down while talking on the phone with her live-in girlfriend. Police ruled out robbery and cited “sexual affairs” as the motive for the killing.12
  12. On August 31, 2007 in Bangkok, 42-year old vegetable vendor, Nattawadee Chandaeng was shot and killed by two men on a motorbike. Police say “the murder may be due to Nattawadee’s sexual affairs with women who may be already in relationships.”13
  13. On August 9, 2006 in Nakorn Ratchasima province, Kritsana Krasaewik was assaulted and burned alive by her boyfriend and his three friends for allegedly “showing off” her girlfriend to her boyfriend. At the time of this report, she had suffered burns over 50 percent of her body and was in a coma. No further news is available.14

In addition to these horrific crimes, on February 24, 2012 in Loei province, a 14-year old girl reported to police that her 38-year old father, who had sole custody of her since 2008, had been raping her continuously for four years because she "liked to hang out with toms" and wouldn't listen to his instructions to stay away from them. She told police that the most recent rape had been on 11 February 2012.15

The killing and rapes of lesbians and toms represents a callous disregard for humanity. The failure of Thailand’s authorities to take preventive measures to stop these killings represents not only a failure of good governance but also a violation of international human rights law.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has identified murder, beatings, kidnappings, rape and sexual assault against LGBT people as homophobic and transphobic violence that “constitute a form of gender-based violence, driven by a desire to punish those seen as defying gender norms,” and that violence against LGBT people “tends to be especially vicious compared to other bias-motivated crimes.”16 The OHCHR explicitly instructs, “The State has an obligation to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish and redress deprivation of life,” and to investigate and prosecute all acts of targeted violence.”17

Thailand has ratified seven international treaties, including: Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of persons.” Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights affirms, “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law.”

Thailand also voted in favor of Resolution 17/19 Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 2011.

As a member of the Asia Pacific Forum (APF), which adopted the Yogyakarta Principles, an authoritative interpretation of international human rights law with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Thailand has affirmed that according to the Principles, “All people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity are entitled to enjoy their basic rights as human beings.”

The NHRC of Thailand has made a commitment to promote the respect of LGBT people, and demonstrated this commitment by publicly stating during the September 2011 APF meeting and bi-annual conference in Bangkok, that the NHRC has been in dialogue with LGBT groups in Thailand about changing same sex partnership laws and the law on gender change.18

Further, Dr. Vitit Muntabhorn, who co-chaired the APF’s Advisory Council of Jurists’ work on sexual orientation and gender identity, emphasized in his opening remarks to the APF delegates in September 2011, “We are not asking people to like or dislike anyone. We’re asking people to be humane and kind. Human rights is about respect, protect, reflect. Not about likes.”19

IGLHRC therefore strongly urges the Thai government to:

  • Order an immediate investigation of the killings and rapes of lesbians and toms in Thailand, and release results of these investigation in a press conference that includes LGBT groups and Dr. Taejing Siripanich, the NHRC Commissioner who serves as the sexual diversity focal point.
  • Ensure that the Royal Thai Police and the Office of the Attorney General of Thailand bring to justice the perpetrators of these horrific crimes against lesbians and toms.
  • Develop and implement a system of monitoring, recording and reporting future incidents of homophobic and transphobic violence, where victims themselves, or their partners friends and family members can report violence without fear of reprisals or threats to privacy.
  • Promote an environment where Thai gays, lesbians, toms and kathoeys enjoy the rights to equal and adequate protection under the law, personal security and safety from violence, non-discrimination, and freedom of expression and opinion.
  • Collaborate with the NHRC and the Thai Sexual Diversity Network to conduct a public awareness campaign to end stigmatization, discrimination, and lethal and non- lethal violence, including family violence against LGBT people
  • Provide resources to the NHRC to train and sensitize all personnel in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems about equality before the law regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to ensure that those investigating or receiving reports of violence must recognize the motives of perpetrators.
  • Include violence against lesbians, toms and transgender people in Thailand’s next CEDAW report.
  • Lead by example in the ASEAN region and openly support the rights of LGBT people by enacting laws to implement Article 30 (the anti-discrimination clause) of the 2007 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2550.

Please feel free to contact IGLHRC’s Asia Program for more information or assistance.

Sincerely,

Cary Alan Johnson
Executive Director

CC:

Dr. Amara Pongsapich, Chair, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand amara@nhrc.or.th, duangkamon.kiet@gmail.co.th

Dr. Taejing Siripanich, Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand c/o poowadol@nhrc.or.th, peeyanuj@yahoo.com

Endorsed by:

For-SOGI
Anjaree
Bangkok Rainbow
International Women's Partnership for Peace and Justice

Notes:

  1. Based on information translated from Thai press by Paisarn Likhitpreechakul, a member of For-SOGI, a gay, lesbian and kathoey group in Thailand.
  2. http://www.pyntoday.com/webboard/index.php?topic=3445.0
  3. http://news.sanook.com/1076498
  4. http://www.kayasit.com/bbs/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=1829
  5. http://www.showmax.tv/
  6. http://108sport.com/news_detail.php?n_id=2024
  7. http://news.sanook.com/366851
  8. http://76.nationchannel.com/playvideo.php?id=24090
  9. http://www.goosiam.com/news/news1/html/0015294.html
  10. http://www.ryt9.com/s/bmnd/683069
  11. http://entertainment.goosiam.com/hotnews/html/0009281.html
  12. http://www.yenta4.com/webboard/2/1220961.html
  13. http://news.mthai.com/general-news/85593.html
  14. http://tnews.teenee.com/crime/3594.html
  15. http://fb.kapook.com/hilight-68028.html
  16. Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence Against Individuals Based on Their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, A/HRC/19/41, 17 November 2011.
  17. Ibid
  18. Statement by a member of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand at the Asia Pacific Forum session on sexual orientation and gender identity in Bangkok, September 7, 2011. The NHRC also said, “It seems like we have prejudices against LGBT everywhere. If we are to eradicate prejudices, then we should do education at an early age with children about the rights of LGBTs. If we wait till they are grown up, it’s difficult.”
  19. Dr. Vitit Muntabhorn’s opening remarks at the Asia Pacific Forum session on sexual orientation and gender identity, Bangkok, September 7, 2011.

Read the press release »


The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), founded in 1990, is a leading international human rights organization dedicated to improving the lives of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. We are dedicated to strengthening the capacity of the LGBT human rights movement worldwide to conduct documentation of LGBT human rights violations and by engaging in human rights advocacy with partners around the globe. We work with entities that include the United Nations, regional human rights monitoring bodies and civil society partners. For more information about the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission visit: www.iglhrc.org.