BANGKOK – The New Parliament (NLA) appointed by the military junta is expected to pass the Civil Partnership Act, the first law in Thailand to recognize the existence of same-sex couples.
However, the bill is widely unacceptable to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists, who say that although the bill allows for greater equality, it still discriminates against gay people. And most importantly, deliberation of the bill is expected to be rushed, without public participation, by the so-called the “rubber stamp” National Legislative Assembly (NLA).
The bill defines “civil partnership” as “two persons of same sex who have registered under the bill,” and stipulates that the rights of a person in a civil partnership will include the right to use one’s surname, property rights between the partners and rights on how the partnership is ended.
Superficially, civil partnerships seem to enjoy the same rights and status as heterosexual marriages under the Family Act. However, when looked at in detail, the bill does not entitle homosexual partners to raise children. Moreover, the minimum age of those allowed to register civil partnerships is 20, while for the heterosexual marriage it is 17.
Unlike the Civil Solidarity Pact in France, which allows either opposite-sex or same-sex couples to register for civil partnerships, Thailand’s draft civil partnership bill is for homosexual couples only.
Kertchoke Kasamwongjit, Specialist in Conflict Management for the Rights and Liberties Protection Department of the Ministry of Justice and the head of the law drafting team, dismissed these concerns, saying that the Civil Partnership Bill could lead to a revision of the Code
Despite the controversial details, the Justice Ministry plans to submit the draft bill soon, according to Kertchoke. This is a result of the military government’s order last week to have more draft bills from ministries submitted to the NLA for deliberation.
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