Bangkok, Thailand police said on Sunday confirmed that they had arrested sixty-two men for breaching coronavirus restrictions in a raid on a gay “chemsex” party, the country’s largest such crackdown during the pandemic. The arrests occurred 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 (reported originally by The Bangkok Post)
Additionally, Colonel Tanprayoon told Reuters that at least thirty people tested positive for drugs and will be additionally charged with drug-related crimes as well. Tanprayoon went on to say that police have “reprimanded people for gathering to drink at home” in the past. He stated that there “shouldn’t be so many people in such a crowded area” under the “current circumstances”. Ekapop added that Faros Sauna 2 consists of two buildings – with one building hosting 50 bedrooms – a swimming pool as well as a karaoke hall.
Nikorn Chimkong, president of LGBT+ rights group the Bangkok Rainbow Organization, had previously told Reuters that this type of party have become part of the “new normal” as the pandemic took hold. Chimkong went on to say that about 30 or 40 people per month contacted the group to ask about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), an HIV-preventable pill. Conversely prior to COVID-19, the group received less than 10 inquiries for the anti-HIV drug.
Both the men and organizers of the party now face charges stemming from violating Thailand’s COVID-19 restrictions (originally put in place last March). Authorities indicated that the men could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to 40,000 baht (£902/$1,276).