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A champion for LGBTIQ+ rights in Thailand

22 June 2023, Impact of Our Work

Buay's courageous fight for equality and acceptance 

I'm proud of what I've done, becoming a voice for other children and youth who might be facing discrimination and hatred just because of who they are.” – Buay*

In a society where acceptance of diverse sexualities and gender identities is still an ongoing struggle, one remarkable teenager is taking a stand to advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ+ children and youth. Meet Buay, a 15-year-old campaigner from Thailand, working tirelessly to raise awareness about LGBTIQ+ rights among migrant and stateless children and youth living on the Thailand-Myanmar border. 

“A lot of them are living under great pressure from their family members and community that do not accept LGBTIQ+, which has caused some of them to suffer from depression and mental health issues,” says Buay.

Through the support of our kind donors and partner organisations, Buay has become a champion for countless young individuals, striving to create a more inclusive and accepting world.

The overwhelming adversity 

Despite significant progress made with the passing of the Gender Equality Act in 2015, the full acceptance of diverse sexualities and gender identities in Thailand is still a work in progress. Sadly, LGBTIQ+ children often remain invisible, with limited research and advocacy efforts focused on their unique challenges.
 
Research conducted by Save the Children in 2018 shed light on the struggles faced by LGBTIQ+ children and youth in Thailand. They often face a lack of acceptance, discrimination, and harassment, alongside limited access to education and healthcare services. These challenges severely impact their self-esteem, mental well-being, and overall ability to reach their full potential. However, strong civil society, positive representations of LGBTIQ+ individuals, and supportive families can provide buffers against discrimination, improving the well-being of these children.

Inspiring change through education

As part of a youth-led group supported by Save the Children, Buay actively works to protect and strengthen the rights of LGBTIQ+ children and youth. They have developed communication materials such as leaflets and posters, specifically targeting households in their community. 

Going door to door, they engage in conversations, educating and dispelling misconceptions surrounding LGBTIQ+ individuals, ultimately working to foster a more inclusive society. Their efforts involve collaborating with families and local communities, regardless of their level of acceptance, to foster understanding and support for LGBTIQ+ rights.

Reflecting on their journey, Buay emphasizes the importance of education and awareness in addressing discrimination. They state, “Pride Month is a really important event for the LGBTIQ+ community, as it helps the public to have a better understanding of the rights we're fighting for, for example, marriage equality. I hope that education about gender diversity will start from the very beginning of everyone's life, in schools.”


Buay, 15, is a campaigner with the Rak Dek Foundation in Thailand.

Our commitment to equality

Save the Children firmly believes in the fundamental rights of LGBTIQ+ children and is committed to protecting and promoting those rights. Through our HEARTS project in Thailand, we strive to create a safe and inclusive environment where all children, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can live free from fear and discrimination.

HEARTS achieves this through various initiatives, including strengthening the voices and capacity of LGBTIQ+ youth, enhancing child-friendly and safe programming, and raising awareness in local communities to protect LGBTIQ+ children and youth. Save the Children provides crucial support to child campaigners and youth groups, offering grants to implement community-based projects and campaigns that promote the rights of LGBTIQ+ children.

Buay's work serves as an inspiration to many, reminding us of the power of youth-led initiatives in effecting change. 

I know many LGBTIQ+ people who are very capable of doing a lot of things, but their opportunities are limited because of discrimination against their sexual orientation or identities. I hope that the discrimination will end, and that LGBTIQ+ people can enjoy the same rights and opportunities as other people.

Buay


To raise awareness in local communities, Save the Children supports youth campaigners like these
to implement community-based projects or campaigns that promote the rights of LGBTIQ+ children.

Together we rise

Buay's dedication to advocating for the rights of LGBTIQ+ children and youth in Thailand is incredible. Their story is a testament to the resilience and strength of young individuals who refuse to be silenced by discrimination and prejudice. As supporters of Save the Children, we have a vital role to play in ensuring a brighter future for all children, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. Together, let us stand united in the pursuit of equality and acceptance for all.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Photos: Sebastian Higginson / Save the Children.

The HEARTS project is delivered in partnership with the ECPAT Foundation, The Life Skills Development Foundation (TLSDF), PYNA Organisation, Association of Children and Youth for the Peace in the Southernmost Provinces of Thailand (Luukrieang), and The Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights.

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