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Thailand’s Conservative Majority Uneasy Over Granting Rights to LGBTQ Citizens

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Thailand's Conservative Majority Uneasy Over Granting Rights to LGBTQ Citizens

The UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has urged Thailand to reduce gender disparities, but authorities have still not granted rights to LGBTQ citizens to marry and start families.

Thai Human Rights advocacy groups say despite the country’s reputation as an LGBTQ paradise where gender diversity is widely accepted, efforts to promote LGBTQ rights and marriage equality are met with resistance from conservative elements in government and religious organizations.

Marriage can only be contracted between a man and a woman according to the Civil and Commercial Code.

Additionally, same-sex couples do not have the same legal rights and benefits as legally married couples, meaning they cannot engage in joint legal and financial actions as a couple such as borrowing money to buy a house.

An application was filed by gay couples in 2019 asking the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the law restricting LGBTQ groups from registering their marriage violates the constitution.

The Constitutional Court ruled in 2021 that the restriction under the Civil and Commercial Code barring same-sex couples from marriage was not a violation of their right to be treated equally before the law and protected against unjust discrimination on the basis of gender.

LGBTQ community facing obstacles

In addition to the court action to enact equal marriage rights, there have been other legislative efforts to enact them.

The two bills are the Civil Partnership Bill, drafted by the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, and the Marriage Equality Bill, proposed by the Move Forward Party.

There have been numerous obstacles and delays with both of these bills.

Last year, the Civil Partnership Bill was sent back to a focus group discussion process after government whips raised concerns about religious sensitivity.

The Marriage Equality Bill was rejected by the cabinet last month because it was similar to the Civil Partnership Bill.

Nada Chaiyajit, a member of the Thai Sang Thai party’s working group on LGBTQ rights, said religious groups started putting their names together to oppose the bill.

Obstacles arising from religious beliefs

The biggest challenge for those trying to get it passed is that it clashes against religious principles because they have influence in society,” she explained.

However, Chompoonute Nakornthap, who assisted in the drafting of the Civil Partnership Bill, said authorities have a genuine desire to legalize same-sex marriage, despite obstacles arising from religion, tradition, and the country’s financial situation.

Chompoonute acknowledged that same-sex couples will not have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

However, considering the economic situation of the country, this may help the bill gain approval more easily.

“This bill has a better chance of passing than the other bill, as it does not involve the finances of the state so much, so we should accept this bill as it is since we can revise it later,” she noted.

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