Amendment, repeal of Thai prostitution law debated at Pattaya seminar

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Chonburi MP Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, member of the House’s committee on children, women, the elderly, disabled, ethnic groups and LGBTQ people, chaired the “Prostitution Laws: Amend or Abolish” seminar.

Social workers, legislators and sex worker advocates called for Thailand’s prostitution laws to be relaxed or abolished at a forum in Pattaya.

Chonburi MP Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, a member of the House’s committee on children, women, the elderly, disabled, ethnic groups and LGBTQ people, chaired the “Prostitution Laws: Amend or Abolish” seminar Monday at the Pullman Hotel Pattaya. Over 70 participants from the government sector, civic organizations, and sex worker activists attended.

The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness about problems surrounding enforcement of the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act of 1996 and suggest solutions, or even amendments to the law or its repeal.

Prostitution was legal in Thailand until the enactment of the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act in 1960. That law was replaced in 1996 to expand punishment for those offering sex for sale and those involved in sex trafficking.


Banlue Kullavanijaya, Pattaya Deputy Mayor gave his opinion and suggestions on how to improve the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act., B.E. 2539 (1996).

Critics maintain the 1996 law is too broad, making it difficult to interpret and enforce, leading to abuse by police, such as extracting bribes from bar owners, entrapping sex workers and penalizing people for simply agreeing to, but not engaging in, prostitution.

The first step toward resolving such issues is to decriminalize sex work in Thailand, advocates said. This would help remove the stigma associated with it and improve the lives of the poor men and women engaged in such work.

Testimony, evidence and conclusions reached at the seminar will be forwarded to relevant government agencies and serve as a basis to any revision of the law.

A common sight in Pattaya when bars are inspected by the authorities to determine whether any illegal activities were being conducted on the premises.


To legalise, or not to legalise, that is the question.