Thai Advocates Champion Equal Rights for Sex Workers

In Advocacy, Global Advocacy, Thailand by Fiona Ip

Sex workers and their allies in Thailand are fighting to change laws that will give them equal rights after the government denied them assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic due to a lack of legal recognition.

Service Workers In Group (SWING), with the support of AHF Thailand, used the inaugural International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers to screen the documentary “Giant SWING,” which highlighted the inequities during the pandemic. A panel session afterward offered experts the chance to chart legislative change that would grant sex workers the same legal and cultural protections as other citizens.

“We don’t want sex workers to have privileges over others – we want them to be able to access what they should as human beings. Seeing each other as equals in life is the first step towards achieving justice,” said Kritsiam Arayawongchai, Country Program Director for AHF Thailand. “The lack of legal protections reflects the deeper issue of sex work being criminalized, which limits access to basic health care and other essential services.”

Sex work criminalization also reduces a person’s opportunity to know their HIV status and decreases the likelihood of viral suppression through treatment adherence. Advocates ended the commemoration with a commitment to pursue equality for sex workers, including drafting a regulation to be submitted to legislators later this year.

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