In mid September, a 25-year-old trans person, Jatuporn “New” Sae-Ung, was sentenced to three years in prison for wearing a Thai traditional dress and performing a mock fashion walk at a political protest in Bangkok back in October 2020. She was charged with royal defamation, or the lèse-majesté law, as the court deemed her action a parody of the country’s queen. Sadly, her case is not an outlier when it comes to Thai authorities’ war against political dissent.
Lèse-majesté, or royal defamation, can still be found in many constitutional monarchies and is supposed to protect the reputation of the head of state. But what sets Thailand apart is the severity of the penalty under the law—also known as Article 112 of the Criminal Code.