Bangkok tells young people to keep minds off sex on Valentine's Day
By Kaweewit Kaewjinda and Panarat Thepgumpanat
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Bangkok city officials are urging young Thais to forgo sex on Valentine's Day this weekend and visit temples instead, as a far better way to mark the day of love.
Thailand has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Southeast Asia, public health officials say, and faces HIV infection rates among its gays comparable to those in Africa's AIDS hotspots.
The Feb. 14 celebrations are a popular Western import in tourist-friendly Thailand, but the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is worried about teenagers making love.
Media surveys have shown teenagers in Thailand pick Valentine's Day as the perfect day to lose their virginity.
"If kids really love each other, it's better for them to go and free birds and fish or go to the temple," Pirapong Saicheua, an official of the city authority, told Reuters.
Freeing caged birds is an auspicious Buddhist ritual that believers in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia see as a way of enhancing their merit, or karma.
"Better to put your minds at ease," Pirapong added. "Don't obsess over something inappropriate for your age."
Predominantly Buddhist Thailand remains mostly conservative despite its reputation as a hotspot for gay bars, nightclubs and massage parlous. Continued...