Thai politicians have passed four different bills on same-sex unions, in what appears to be a step towards Thailand becoming the second territory in Asia to legalise same-gender marriages.
- If the legislation passes, Thailand will become the second country in Asia to legalise same-sex unions
- The move would strengthen Thailand’s image as a liberal holiday destination
- Bangkok hosted the country’s first official pride parade earlier this month
Thailand has one of Asia’s most open and visible LGBTQ+ communities, adding to its image of tolerance and attraction as a liberal holiday destination for foreign tourists.
Earlier this month, thousands of members of Thailand’s LGBTQ+ community raised rainbow flags in the country’s first official parade celebrating pride month and supporting gender equality.
But activists say Thai laws and institutions are yet to reflect changing social attitudes, and still discriminate against LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples.
The four draft laws approved on Wednesday each seek to provide same-sex partners with almost the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.
The cabinet endorsed two last week that would create a same-sex civil partnership law. Another civil partnership bill from the Democrat Party was also approved.
A more liberal equal marriage bill from the opposition Move Forward party also passed, despite efforts by government whips to vote it down. That draft seeks to replace gendered terms in existing laws and make marriage applicable to all people.
“This is a very good sign,” Chumaporn “Waddao” Taengkliang, of the Rainbow Coalition for Marriage Equality, said in reference to the approval of the bills.
“There should be the same standard for all genders, whether it’s a civil union or marriage.”
Activists call for legal amendments
The Constitutional Court last year ruled Thailand’s current marriage law, which only recognises heterosexual couples, was constitutional, but recommended legislation be expanded to ensure rights of other genders.
So far in Asia, only Taiwan has legalised same-sex unions.
Thai LGBTQ+ activists have criticised the two government-backed bills, arguing there is no need for a special law for same-sex couples, just amendments to make existing laws more inclusive.
The four bills will be deliberated by a 25-member committee, which will decide whether to send any of those, or a consolidated draft, to the house for two more readings, prior to senate then royal approval.
Thousands join Thailand first official pride parade.