Thailand urged to investigate killings of lesbians, ‘toms’

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The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is calling on the government of Thailand to immediately investigate the killings of lesbians and gender-variant women who identify as “toms.”

IGLHRC has documented a pattern of slayings – at least 15 – since 2006.

In letters to Thailand’s inspector general of women’s affairs and family development, the commissioner general of the Royal Thai Police and the minister of foreign affairs, IGLHRC demanded that Thai police reclassify the killings from “crimes of passion, love gone wrong or the fault of the victims.”

“We strongly urge the Thai government order an immediate investigation of the killings and rapes of lesbians and toms in Thailand and release results of this investigation in a press conference that includes LGBT groups and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand,” said Cary Alan Johnson of IGLHRC.

The human rights group reported that victims were as young as 17 and that they had been stabbed multiple times, suffocated, strangled, shot and sexually assaulted.

In two cases, lesbian couples were killed by men who objected to same-sex relationships and felt rebuffed when their attempts at coercing one partner into a heterosexual relationship failed.

“The failure of the Thai government to prevent or properly investigate these killings are not only appalling, they are evidence of poor governance and blatant violation of international human rights law,” said Grace Poore, program coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands at IGLHRC.

In a November 2011 report, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 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.”

The high commissioner of human rights explicitly instructed, “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.”

Thailand has signed and ratified seven international treaties that guarantee respect for human rights, including the 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.

IGLHRC’s specific recommendations to the Thai government are that it:

• Order an immediate investigation of the killings and rapes of lesbians and toms and release the results at a press conference.

• Ensure that the Royal Thai Police and the Office of the Attorney General of Thailand bring to justice the perpetrators.

• Develop and implement a system of monitoring, recording and reporting future incidents of homophobic and transphobic violence.

• Promote an environment where LGBT people 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 national human rights commission to conduct a public awareness campaign to end stigmatization, discrimination and violence against LGBT people.

• Provide resources to the LGBT groups to train and personnel in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems.

• Openly support the rights of LGBT people by enacting laws to implement the anti-discrimination clause of the 2007 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand.