Thailand could recognize same-sex unions by end of the year

A same sex couple — Photo: Watsamon Tri-yasakda/ Coconuts Media

Thailand may appear LGBT-friendly to outsiders — from the well-known openness of our trans community to our smorgasbord of sexuality labels — on paper, however, the kingdom is not so accepting when it comes to real-life questions of partnerships or family planning.

That may be in for a big change by the end of this year.

The cabinet is planning to hold public hearings on same-sex unions later this month and could pass legislation before the end of 2018 that would legally recognize same-sex unions — though the term “marriage” would still be off limits.

Yesterday, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) announced that online polling is already underway and that public consultations on the issue will be held Nov. 12-16 in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, and Songkhla.

Kerdchoke Kasemwongjit, deputy director-general of the RLPD, said he wanted to hear the opinions of citizens before concluding and presenting the 70-section bill to the cabinet by the end of this month, reported Post Today.

 Photo: Watsamon Tri-yasakda/ Coconuts Media
A same sex couple — Photo: Watsamon Tri-yasakda/ Coconuts Media

Revisions to the “Life Partnership Bill,” originally drafted in 2013, aim to give the LGBT community more rights in regards to family planning, said Kerdchoke, who guaranteed that the act will grant them “90 percent of the rights” other married hetreosexual couples have.

Though Kerdchoke added that the official term for their union will still be “partnership” and not “marriage.”

Much like the United Kingdom’s 2004 Civil Partnership legislation, the updated bill will also address tax reductions, welfare benefits, and handling of inheritance, according to Thairath.

As with couples of opposing sexes, same-sex couples will be able to register their partnership at any district office, he added.

But what of those 10 percent of rights not granted? One key area where LGBT couples would not have the same privileges of their straight counterparts would be their ability to adopt a child. That decision is justified simply as being “in the child’s best interest.” Oof.

Still, it feels like an indisputably major step towards equality. Some, however, are seeing a bald-faced political calculation in the move, as well as in its timing.

“The [Thai] junta wants to pass [the act] before elections in order to help them gain support from the LGBTI community, as well as from the international community,” Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Ubon Ratchathani University, told Gay Star News last month.

“They are doing everything to increase their popularity,” he said.

Regardless, if things move quickly enough, Thailand could be the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex unions in practice. Back in May 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled that same same-sex couples had the right to marry (yes, the “m” word) under that country’s constitution.

A small procession of same-sex couples staged a “marriage parade” to call attention to a campaign for marriage equality in 2014 -- Photo: Watsamon Tri-yasakda/ Coconuts Media
A small procession of same-sex couples staged a “marriage parade” to call attention to a campaign for marriage equality in 2014 — Photo: Watsamon Tri-yasakda/ Coconuts Media

However, since giving being given their marching orders by the courts two years ago to amend the law to align with the constitution, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan has moved at a painfully slow pace since the country is still divided on the issue, according to Straits Times.

A referendum on the court’s decision will be held on the 24th of this month, at which point the legislature will decide whether or not they will comply.

The LGBT community in Taiwan regards this as a major setback.

Read the full Thai ‘Life Partnership bill’ and voice your opinion here.

Want to learn more about the complex world of female love in Thailand? Check out Coconut TV’s short documentary:


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