An American couple who made a name for themselves on Instagram with their “Travelling Butts” feed featuring photos of bare bottoms captured around the world by themselves and their followers have been arrested in Bangkok. The photos themselves are all fairly innocent, as far as a photo of bottoms can be, and some even have artistic value taken in the correct light and at an interesting site. However, when the couple decided to take bare butt photos at a number of religious sites in Thailand they took their tongue-in-cheek hobby a step too far, at least as far as Thai authorities are concerned.
Initially fined around 5,000 Baht (about £115 pounds) the couple were then investigated for other similar crimes at other religious sites around the country and are now in custody of the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok and could face a maximum term of 7 years and a 40,000 Baht fine for their wrongdoing under the criminal law concerning religious insults. On top of that they could also face another 5 year term and a further fine of 100,000 Baht for an offence under the computer crime act.
The offences are said to have occurred at Trai Mit Witthayaram (Golden Buddha temple) and Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) in Bangkok. The photos came to the attention of the authorities when they where widely shared on social media and caused some outrage in Thailand. They where arrested at Bangkok airport on 28th November and not allowed to leave the country. Though the couple have now deleted their accounts, the nature of the internet being what it is, the photos are widely available on the internet and it appears a spoof account can even be found on Instagram which shows a copy of the page before it was deleted. All this will certainly not only enrage the Thai authorities further but also most Thais as the photos are seen as highly disrespectful to the Thai culture and Buddhism as a whole.
The couple, originally from San Diego, California, have reached out to their city commissioner, Nicole Murray-Ramirez who has been an LGBT activist for over 45 years and is currently a San Diego appointed city human rights commissioner. Mr Murray-Ramirez is quoted as saying, “Though I am very disappointed in their actions, I am talking to U.S. government officials to see what assistance we can give them.”