Profiting from sex in Thailand is illegal, as is receiving any benefit from the proceeds of prostitution. Bar owners take note.
But in this instance, all police can prove so far is that people paid B1,500 per head to join the party. If that money simply paid for the venue, drinks and food (and who is to say that it wasn’t?), then any sex that took place was “not for profit” as it were – just as it is with normal couples.
So under these circumstances if these people are guilty of Thailand’s sex laws, then so are everyone else, even married couples who enjoy a weekend away to rekindle their romance – a fact that gives s light chuckle towards the government promoting honeymoon holidays to the Land of Smiles.
People may or may not agree with it, but unless harm is done such activities behind closed doors are a private affair between consenting adults. And on this issue, trying to leverage prostitution laws to regulate what is nothing more than an “adult-entertainment event”, would be hilarious if it weren’t for the existence of Thailand’s notorious sex-tourism destinations such as Patong and Pattaya.
On that note, the current attack on Thailand and its thriving sex industry is confusing many issues, including inferences of human trafficking and child sex slavery while only mentioning “sex tours” during which tourists engage with prostitutes (see here). The two are not the same. To wit, all eastern states in Australia have fully legalised prostitution while the rest of the states have made independent sex work legal, but kept brothels illegal. The UK has yet to catch up, but advocates are hoping that a landmark case currently being heard in the High Court might change that.
However, worse for the Pattaya case is that the General Manager of the hotel is facing charges of providing a venue for the activity, and reports of some B18 million in fines in the air. In this, GMs in Phuket should be shaking in their boots considering that the understanding of the law just shown in Pattaya delivers Phuket’s keen honeymoon holiday market a swift kick between the legs.
Cases such as this demonstrate how laws are picked up and used willy-nilly by law-enforcers. This is often aided by the fact that most laws in Thailand are so vaguely worded they allow for idiotically wide interpretation by those enforcing it. Bad laws encourage bad enforcement. The law cannot vaguely say “you know what I mean” and leave police to do the rest. The raid in Pattaya may look official, but a simple shakedown by cops is no different.
As for the Pattaya raid, whether it was motivated by a sense of moral outrage or simply to make a quick buck, it was not lawful – and only serves to reinforce one of the root causes of corruption in Thailand.