Thailand to Vote on Same-Sex Partnership Bill

Thailand’s government is considering a Life Partnership Bill that would legalise same-sex unions.

The legislation will provide the country’s LGBT community, which comprises of an estimated six million people, similar rights to those available in traditional marriages, including surname change, property and inheritance.

“We hope to have the bill finalized and for a vote before the end of the year,” said General Phuchit Jaruwat, the rights and liberties protection director.

Should the cabinet approve of the bill, Thailand could be the first Asian country to legally recognise same-sex partnerships.

However, media reports said some activists in the movement have concerns about the bill as it stands now. “We need LGBTIQ [community] to be included and not [to have] a separate law that creates second-class citizens,” activist Matcha Phorn told the South China Morning Post.

Under the proposed law, same-sex couples cannot marry and do not have access to joint adoption or parental rights. “The bill does not give us the right to be a family or to raise a family,” Wannapong Yodmuang, an activist with from advocacy group Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand told Reuters.

“We recognize that amending laws and bringing new legislation is tough, but LGBT people must have the same rights as heterosexual people; there can be no compromise.”

Ratthawit Apiputthiphan, director at LGBT aid group Mplus noted that despite seeming like “a paradise for the LGBT community”, Thailand does not provide adequate legal support for the people. “We want to have all equal rights, the same treatment as ordinary men and women. It seems like they have this law just to label us.”

Recognition for LGBT rights has continued to remain scarce around Asia. Voters in Taiwan has rejected the legalisation of same-sex marriage in a November referendum. Vietnam allows same-sex partnerships, but provides no legal recognition or protection for such unions. Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore still regard same-sex sexual relationships as a crime.