Dozens arrested in raid on ‘chemsex’ celebration

Police said they had arrested 62 men for breaching coronavirus restrictions in a raid on a gay “chemsex” party, the country’s largest such crackdown during the pandemic.

The men were arrested on Saturday night at Faros Sauna 2, where police also found drugs, needles and used condoms, said Police Colonel Ekapop Tanprayoon, superintendent of Bangkok’s Wang Thong Lang District police station.

“(In the past) we have reprimanded people for gathering to drink at home, ” Ekapop said.

“But under the current circumstances there shouldn’t be so many people in such a crowded area, ” he said, adding that Faros Sauna 2 has two buildings – one with 50 bedrooms – and a swimming pool and karaoke.

As Thailand grapples with a third Covid-19 wave, campaigners are warning of the health risks posed by an apparent increase in chemsex – where mainly gay and bisexual men meet to take drugs such as crystal meth and unprotected sex is common.

A largely conservative Buddhist society, Thailand has a reputation for its relaxed attitude towards gender and sexual diversity since homosexuality was decriminalised in 1956.

Yet Thai LGBT+ people often face discrimination and stigma in schools, the workplace and in healthcare facilities, and are often rejected by their families.

People who attended the party and its organisers face charges of violating an emergency decree put in place last March to combat Covid-19, Ekapop said, and could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 40,000 baht (RM5,280). — Reuters

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