The suggestion of an executive of the Democrat party that Thailand should decriminalize sex toys after the next election has sent vibrations throughout the political spectrum. Here in Pattaya, other parties have hastened to disassociate themselves from the trivial and boring issue. “We should be concentrating on the economic and political future of Thailand,” said a senior Pheu Thai party member.
Sex toys have been banned from sale in Thailand since a 1928 obscenity law although the penalties are rather lopsided: a mild US$1,800 fine or draconian three years in prison are mentioned in the criminal code. According to internet reports over the years, Pattaya has taken the brunt of the publicity. A tragedy occurred in 2006 when a British vacationer took a large female balloon doll back to his hotel room and tried to blow-inflate it without mechanical assistance. A fatal heart attack followed.
Prosecutions have been rare. In 2018 a Pattaya night market was raided and thousands of liberators, rings, strap-ons arousal drugs and bondage gear were seized. Some of the equipment had names which require specialist interpretation, including erotic glider, the poached egg and the starfish. One of the salesmen arrested said his intentions were simply to improve the sex lives of old men, reduce rapes and save marriages.
Whilst the Democrat party executive did mention those so-called bonuses of legalization, the real justification is certainly to make money. If sex toys were legal, then factories could be set up in Thailand to sell internationally. There is evidently a multi-billion market – in any currency – waiting to be exploited out there. Many would argue that a principal reason for the decriminalization of cannabis was similarly to encourage Thai exports as more and more countries legalize the weed or use it in medicine.
It is inconceivable that the Thai sex toy legislation will be amended any time soon. The notion of every 24-hour convenience store having a sex toy section or even a selection of pornography for stimulation is too bizarre a prospect for conservative politicians to contemplate. The current situation may be ambiguous but it works. No formal displays, but sex toys are none the less available in ill-lit side-streets or on shopping carts which appear after midnight. After all, nobody wants to buy a dildo in the morning.