History and Legal Status

The history and legal situation of prostitution in Thailand is interesting, especially since Thailand is one of the few countries which tend not to attach a severe, lasting stigma to prostitutes and prostitution.
There is a rich, ancient legal tradition in Thai history, expressed through the collection of traditional legal texts known as the Dhammasattha, which generally condemns or bans prostitution, and while it doesn’t have legal force, this tradition does have a strong influence on contemporary Thai legislation. Of great influence are also regular Thai social norms, under which the traditional practice of polygamy, as well as cheating, are more accepted than in many other cultures.

While not legal, prostitution has been regulated by the government of Thailand under various acts of legislation, including the Entertainment Places Act of 1966, and the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act of 1996, through which the government ensures that (disguised) brothels, escort services, and other forms of sex services are kept free of sexually transmitted diseases, exploitation of workers, and especially underage participation in the sex trade, known as child prostitution (and strictly illegal in all countries, and under international law). The age of consent for participation in the sex industry in Thailand is 18 years.

Despite open support for the de facto legality of prostitution in Thailand by politicians and other prominent figures, the effort to officially legalize prostitution in 2003 stalled, and has not been brought to the fore since.