THE flamboyant behaviour of gay and transgender Thai monks, who are often be seen wearing revealingly tight robes, carrying pink purses and having effeminately-shaped eyebrows, has become a source of grave concern to Buddhist leaders.
The “good manners” curriculum – the country’s first – is being introduced in the northern province of Chiang Rai, which apparently has the greatest number of gay and transgendered monks.
The senior monk told the BBC he would address issues like smoking, drinking alcohol, walking and going to the toilet properly He said he was particularly concerned by effeminate activities among novices.
Thailand has a very large and visible population of transgender men (kathoey), and Phra Vajiramedhi acknowledged that it was difficult to exclude them from the monkhood. But he hoped his course could at least persuade them to curb their more extrovert habits.
If successful, the “good manners” course, at the Novice Demonstration School, would be replicated at other Buddhist monasteries and seminaries, he said.
Last year, according to this blog, another senior monk – Phra Payom, abbot of Suan Kaew temple in Nonthaburi – said that on his travels of the nation’s temples, he has found most gay and kathoey monks in the North, though he has no idea why. The South has very few, while other regions contain a mix.
They are an eyesore. They want to be gay, but haven’t worked out how to do it yet.
Gay monks are not confined to the young. Some temples have gay monks aged in their 50s and 60s, who have been in the monkhood ten years or more. If gay monks are caught doing anything naughty, they can be chased out.
Phra Payom added:
However, they are often clever at arranging flowers, speak nicely to people, and can help senior monks putting on functions, so they end up staying.
Phra Payom said that Thai television soaps, which often include gay characters, offer role models to Thai youngsters, which might explain the increase in gays and kathoey in the region.
NOTE:Â Bangkok Today ran the picture above to illustrate a shock-horror storyÂ about the profusion of gay monks in the North. Their faces were obscured, but someone later posted a copy of the original picture on the internet.
HAT TIP: Robert Stovold