Thai Cabinet becomes first in Southeast Asia to approve same-sex union Bill

  • The Thai Cabinet has approved the draft Bill on same-sex civil partnership, letting gay couples enjoy most of the rights of straight couples, including adopting children
  • If passed, Thailand will become the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise same-sex unions.
  • The move comes a month after metropolitan government of Tokyo announced it will be issuing certificates to prove same-sex couples’ partnership status in November. 
The Bill will not endorse same-sex marriage but enables gay couples to adopt children, jointly manage assets and liabilities and inheritance. (Photo source: Hotel G)
The Bill will not endorse same-sex marriage but enables gay couples to adopt children, jointly manage assets and liabilities and inheritance. (Photo source: Hotel G)

Thailand’s Cabinet has approved the draft of Civil Partnership Bill on Tuesday, 7 June, which when passed, will legalise same-sex couples unions.

But this Bill will not go as far as endorsing same-sex marriage. It will enable gay couples to adopt children, jointly manage assets and liabilities and have inheritance and heritage rights between partners — which are not part of current laws.

The Bill had been proposed by the Justice Ministry, which held a public hearing and took into account all opinions and plug possible loopholes before revising the bill to meet global standards. 

According to government spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek, the Cabinet approved the draft legislation after receiving opinions from LGBTQ and religious groups, which don’t object to the proposal. It is an important step for Thailand in creating equality for everyone and guaranteeing rights for same-sex couples to start a family.

The Bill will be forwarded to Parliament for approval before becoming law. If passed, Thailand will be the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise same-sex unions.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the Civil Partnership bill had been drafted in line with the changing global trends. (Photo source: The Nation/Asia News Network)

Speaking to reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the Civil Partnership bill had been drafted in line with the changing global trends. Once bill is enacted into law, it would guarantee sexual equality and endorse all sexual diversities in line with international human rights standards. 

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the bill will definitely be tabled in the current parliamentary session, but could not guarantee if it will be enacted before this government’s term ends in March.

Bill approved a month after Tokyo

About a month before the Thai Cabinet approved the draft of its same-sex civil partnership  Bill, the metropolitan government of Tokyo announced that it will start recognising same-sex partnerships from November. The move comes amid growing calls in Japan for equality for sexual minorities. 

What this means is same-sex couples in the country’s most populous area still cannot get legally married but will be issued certificates to prove their partnership status. This will allow them to apply for government and private-sector services, as stated in a draft of the plan posted on the Tokyo government’s website. 

Like its Japanese counterparts, same-sex couples in Thailand are still unable to get legally married.

LGBTQ+ community rejects government’s bill, continues to push for marriage equality

Thailand has a friendly image towards the LGBTQ+ community but its laws are mixed when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. (Photo source: AFP)

In several Thai media reports, the government’s Civil Partnership bill had been rejected by the LGBTQ+ community, who continued to push for the Marriage Equality Bill drafted by Move Forward MP Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat.

It wants MP Tunyawaj’s bill to be taken into consideration because it also offers all the rights offered to heterosexual couples and believes that the Civil Partnership Bill signifies LGBTQ people as second or third class citizens.

In an exclusive interview with Voice of the Nation on Monday, 6 June, the MP said, “The same-sex marriage draft bill will ensure full equality with dignity and benefits. We have to fight for the right things.” 

The House had forwarded the Marriage Equality Bill to the Cabinet for endorsement, but the Cabinet had returned it on 29 March, saying the government was drafting its own Bill with similar details.

As of December 2021, 31 countries across the globe have legalised same-sex marriages nationally or regionally through legislation or court decisions. 

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