Economics of forced labour

Lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexuals face persistant workplace discrimination - ILO report

A new report has found that that people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities in Thailand face frequent discrimination in the workplace partly due to prejudices common in the Thai society, as well as a lack of protective laws and policies on discrimination.

Press release | Bangkok, Thailand | 04 June 2014
BANGKOK (ILO News) - The report, by the International Labour Organization (ILO) marks the first time the ILO has conducted a study on LGBT (lesbians, gays, transgender people and bisexuals) issues in the workplace in Asia and the Pacific and it is part of global research designed to address emerging forms of discrimination in employment.

Based on one year of extensive research, the report, “Promoting Rights, Diversity and Equality in the World of Work” (or PRIDE), was released on June 4th. It maps patterns of discrimination faced by LGBT people in the workplace and investigates challenges and good practices in combatting discrimination and promoting equality in employment and occupation.

“Much of the discrimination and exclusion faced by LGBT in Thailand is an expression of the rigid gender standards and inequality that are prevalent in Thailand society,” ILO researcher and the main author of the report, Busakorn Suriyasarn, said. “Those who do not conform to traditional male/female, masculine/feminine norms are censured, marginalized or excluded for being different”.

The report also points out that Thai labour policy does not sufficiently protect workers against discrimination and that LGBT workers are extremely vulnerable to unfair treatment in the workplace. The report found that discrimination occurs at all stages of the employment process, including education and training, access to jobs, advancement opportunities, social security and partner benefits. Transgendered workers, as the report found, face even greater constraints, and their participation in the workforce is often limited to very few professions such as beauticians and entertainers.”

The report advises the Thai government to develop anti-discrimination legislation specific to employment, and support this legislation with appropriate mechanisms to ensure compliance and access to redress in cases of violation.

“The LGBT groups need to join together and build alliances with labour departments, employers’ and trade unions to raise awareness about their rights under the law and the ways to address violations,” Richard Howard, ILO Senior Specialist on HIV and AIDS, said. “They should also be at the forefront of developing anti-discrimination policies to ensure that that community needs are taken into account”.

For further information and to arrange interviews please contact:

Mr Richard Howard
Senior Specialist on HIV and AIDS
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Tel.: +66 (0) 2 288 1765

Ms Kwantawan Hongladarom
Communication Assistant
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific 
Tel.: +66 (0) 2 2882202