Defining decency in Thailand

I wish to know what the decency standards are for art, postcards, paintings, pictures and photos which show the Thai female form in natural, studio and domestic settings. How much “skin” is allowed to be shown in these media?

  • Asked on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | 03:06 PM
    Captain Bligh Records.

If the images are to be used for advertising purposes and you are not sure if they are suitable for publication, you should submit 17 copies of all materials in question for review by our committee. There is a 2,000 baht fee per piece. All decisions are rendered within 30 days of application. Under the Consumer Protection Act, this committee has the authority to forbid any material that it deems immoral or indecent.

  • Answered on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | 03:06 PM
    Noppadol Mekmakha, Director of the Division of Consumer Protection on Advertising, Office of the Consumer Protection Board in Bangkok.

Section 287 to the Penal Code of Thailand states, “Whoever (1) for the purpose of trade or by trade, for public distribution or exhibition, makes, produces, possesses, brings or causes to be brought into the Kingdom, sends or causes to be sent out of the Kingdom, takes away or causes to be taken away, or circulates by any means whatever, any document, drawing, print, painting, printed matter, picture, poster, symbol, photograph, cinematograph film, noise tape, picture tape or any other thing which is obscene; (2) carries on trade, or takes part or participates in the trade concerning the aforsaid obscene material or thing, or distributes or exhibits to the public, or hires out such material or thing; (3) in order to assist in the circulation or trading of the aforesaid obscene material or thing, propagates or spreads the news by any means whatever that there is a person committing the act which is an offense according to the Section, or propagates or spreads the news that the aforesaid obscene material or thing may be obtained from any person or by any means, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years, or fine not exceeding six thousand baht, or both. However, the definition of what constitutes obscenity is not as cut-and-dried as, say, what constitutes theft. For this reasons, officers must review the material on a case-by-case basis, referring back to previous Supreme Court judgments. For example, a picture of a naked woman blurred below the waist, is not generally considered as obscene. However, even some images which have no sexual organs overtly displayed but which are nevertheless deemed as sexually arousing can be considered as “obscenity”, not art.

  • Answered on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 | 03:06 PM
    Boriboon Yusuksomboon, Deputy Superintendent of Investigation Section, Phuket Provincial Police.
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