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THAILAND - Dec 27, 2004

A Thai judge in a low level court has ruled that the country's only English-language gay scene magazine, Thai Guys, is obscene. The ruling came in a case brought against two directors of Spice Trade Travel, a local company that openly targets gay and lesbian travelers. Thai Guys magazine is a non-pornographic, small-format magazine that is available free at hundreds of restaurants, clubs, hotels, and saunas around the kingdom.

The judge noted that while the magazine did not contain explicit nude images, some of the pictures were, in his opinion, "inappropriate and suggestive".

"If these were women in the pictures then [straight] men might find them sexually attractive", he stated.

In fact, there are dozens of free, tourist magazines in Thailand which feature scantily clad women offering "massage" services and newspapers like Thai Rath regularly feature sexy come-on ads for straights. High fashion monthly magazines like Lips regularly show pubic hair and revealing outlines of genitalia on their sexually-posed male models. Major bookstores also carry straight and gay magazines with soft core imagery and imported books with full frontal nudity can be browsed by any patron.

Several Australian newspapers mistakenly reported that Thai Guys contained personal ads, which it does not. The magazine features news articles, stories, maps, and advertisements from hotels, real estate agents, travel services, and other local businesses seeking the pink dollar.

While the Judge stated that the defendents were personally innocent of trading any sort of pornography (despite outrageous allegations printed in the Thai and Australian press), he noted that the company offices had a stack of free Thai Guys for pick-up by visitors and, as directors, found them guilty of a petty violation.

The judge immediately suspended sentences for both men and set them free.

The ruling shocked everyone in the courtroom, including the press. Only the Australian Embassy seemed to be in-the-know as its new Consul was immediately on hand with an air ticket for the Australian defendant to depart on the next flight out (their thoughful Christmas Eve gift was declined, however).

During the trial, the Thai police and the Tourism Authority failed to present any evidence at all of wrongdoing or illegal activity on behalf of the company or either director.

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