By Tara Subramaniam and Kocha Olarn, CNN
Thailand’s conservative Democratic Party has devised a novel strategy to try to win votes ahead of next month’s national elections: a campaign promise to legalize sex toys if they come to power.
Ratchada Thanadirek, an executive member of the Democratic Party, said the party plans to promote the sex toy industry “for the safety of users.”
In a statement posted on Facebook on Monday, he argued that legalizing sex toys would help reduce the rate of sex crimes and the amount of illegally smuggled products from abroad, which lack quality control and can sometimes cause infections among users.
“Looking at the medical angle, doctors even recommend [sex toys]instead of buying a sexual service or cheating on partners,” Thanadirek told CNN.
The party wants to decriminalize the sale of sex toys, which are considered “obscene” under Section 287 of Thailand Penal Code. Those who make, publicly distribute, or sell sex toys can face up to 3 years in prison, a fine of up to six thousand baht (about $175), or both.
Instead, the Democratic Party proposes that sex toys be “a specially controlled product under government regulations and with age limitations, where buyers must be over 18 years of age.”
The party, which has historically been one of the most conservative political forces in the kingdom, is expected to win between 20 and 30 seats nationwide in the May 14 election, according to the latest poll.
To change the law, they would need the support of other parties to reach the required minimum of 251 votes.
While statistically it may be a long shot, the party’s proposal has sparked a conversation about sexual pleasure and taboos.
Sex toys are considered “immoral” in some parts of Thailand, but they are also freely available at many street stalls in Bangkok, Thanadirek said in his statement.
He acknowledged that some people may have religious or moral concerns about legalizing sex toys, but insisted that doing so could have a positive impact on health. It could also help the economy, he told CNN.
Thanadirek said that the Thai government could levy taxes on imported sex toys and that the country, as a major global producer of rubber, has the potential to become a center for the production of sex toys.
Thailand is largely a conservative society and there is a stigma associated with actions that are perceived as challenging traditional family values, especially in rural areas. But there is often a disconnect between what the law says and the reality on the ground.
The CNN Wire
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