A high-profile legal campaigner has said Indonesians would not be welcome in Thailand who left obscene and degrading comments on the page of a newlywed, same-sex Thai couple.
Ronnarong Kaewpetch, an attorney whose Network of Campaigning for Justice takes on matters of public interest, had come to the couple’s defense after they were inundated with insults as well as death threats on social media.
“Indonesian people, don’t think you guys are there, and I can’t do anything. Any day you enter Thailand, I’ll have police waiting with arrest warrants against you,” Ronnarong wrote.
After pictures of couple’s marriage were posted last week by one of the grooms, Suriya Koedsang, the comments started pouring in, leading to an Thai-Indonesian flame war. The majority of the latter attacked their marriage as “forbidden by god” and “cause of the world’s doom,” along a stream of insults ranging from pantek (asshole) and kontol (penis) to orang gila (crazy people).
Suriya said he has been harrassed by Indonesian netizens non-stop for three days and nights despite never replying to any of them. What made him seek legal advice from Ronnarong were the death threats he said were directed at him, his husband, parents, relatives and even their wedding photographer.
“I have tons of questions in my head ‘Why?’” Suriya wrote online in English. “We married in my warm house and family, my own place, my own [motherland] and what is wrong with Indonesia and Indonesians?? Why need to be that dramatic? … Why are you guys so harsh on us? Do I need to hide when I did nothing wrong?”
He went on to say he respects all religions, citing years he spent studying in Pattani, the southernmost province of Thailand where Islam is the primary religion.
“I have no problem at all, not even a difficult time, back there. Besides, my Muslim family always supported me the way I am. Religion never teaches you to hate others, to look down on people. In contrast, religion leverages the human heart to be a good human,” Suriya wrote.
While same-sex marriage is not recognized by the law in Thailand – a civil partnerships bill has been stalled for years – gay couples have long thrown wedding parties.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that civil partnerships are law. While a bill has been endorsed by the cabinet, it has languished in the legislature.