Thailand: Gays and Lesbians Banned from Enrolling in Teacher Training Schools

On December 26, 1996, in a report in the Bangkok Post, the Rajabat Institute Council, the collective governing body of all of Thailand's teachers colleges, declared that it would bar homosexuals from enrolling in any of its colleges nationwide. The announcement brought strong criticism from human rights groups and many others, who are urging the repeal of this discriminatory policy. On January 25th, Suraporn Danaitangtrakul, a Deputy Education Minister, proposed that the Institute set a new criteria to bar people with "improper personalities," but not certain groups such as homosexuals. Anjaree, a lesbian group in Thailand, supported Mr. Saraporn's ideas but said the term "improper personalities" needs to be more clearly defined. Furthermore, members of Anjaree are working with other human and civil rights groups to request that the ban be dropped and that an anti-discrimination clause be added to the charter of the colleges. They are currently planning a conference to discuss opposition to the ban. In a recent positive development, the Commission on Justice and Human Rights of the Thai Parliament has discussed the matter and decided that the ban goes against human rights principles. This occurred after hearing testimonies from psychiatrists confirming that homosexuals were not sick or abnormal. Members of Anjaree were also asked to present lesbian and gay arguments against the ban.