THAILAND - Aug 18, 2005
The Defense Ministry of Thailand has announced that it will ask Army doctors to use proper medical terminology to describe gays and transgenders that it rejects from military duty.
Previously, young men who were overtly feminine or living as women have been officially labeled as having a "severe psychological disorder," even though modern Thai psychiatrists do not consider homosexuality to be a mental illness.
Thai gay activists lament the prejudicial labeling as insulting and harmful to the future job prospects of Thai citizens. Natee Teerarojjanapongs, a former Utopia Award winner, launched a campaign to alter the official wording.
"No employer wants to hire anyone with a record of mental disorder to work in his company," Natee said, adding that people with mental disorders are also unable to make certain legal agreements.
"The words 'mental disorder' marked on the certificate seriously affects our lives," agreed former champion kick boxer Parinya "Nong Tum".
While 400,000 young men were called up for conscription last year, only one percent were singled out as gay or transgender, far less than the statistical presence of homosexuals in society, suggesting that the majority of homosexual recruits are able to slip quietly into action.
Without considering the many homosexuals serving under (and above) him, the commander general of the army reserve, Lieutenant General Arthon Lohitakul, said, "We are not going to allow them into the army because it would cause a lot of disorder, but the move is designed to address the complaints and to boost human rights."