Thailand Is a Step Closer to Civil Unions for Gays, But Some Say That’s a Step Backwards

Thailand Is a Step Closer to Civil Unions for Gays, But Some Say That’s a Step Backwards

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The progression of worldwide LGBTQ rights is typically a cause for celebration among the gay community, but in the case of gay unions finally coming to Thailand, it depends on who you ask. While some are thrilled by the prospect of being one step closer to civil unions in the Asian nation, others are clamoring for the bill that would see Thai civil unions solidified to be dropped.

Thursday saw the first draft of a bill that would enshrine Thai civil unions if ultimately approved. If passed, the bill would make Thailand the first Asian nation to endorse same-sex unions, though it’s important to acknowledge a civil union isn’t quite the same thing as marriage. Close, but not quite.

According to Nathporn Chatusripitak, an adviser to the Prime Minister, the Thai civil unions bill would allow same-sex couples to adopt children (assuming at least one of them is a Thai citizen and both are at least 20 years old), though there’s debate over this point, as the draft of the bill doesn’t mention adoption explicitly. The bill does, however, bestow property, inheritance, succession and medical decision rights upon the same-sex partners.

For Thai civil unions to become official, the cabinet will need to send the draft of the bill to the National Legislative Assembly. If the assembly votes to accept the bill, it can make amendments and then vote to pass it as law. If passed, the Thai civil unions law would take effect four months later.

There has been much speculation over which Asian nation would be the first to welcome gay unions (with Taiwan long considered a frontrunner), but because of the four-month delay, it’s still very possible the Taiwanese legislature will beat Thailand to the punch.

But many local LGBTQ activists are unimpressed with the attempt to enshrine Thai civil unions. In fact, they would prefer to see the bill dropped altogether. According to them, anything short of marriage equality is unacceptable.

“We need LGBTIQ [people] to be included and not [to have] a separate law that creates second-class citizens,” local activist Matcha Phorn-in tells South China Morning Post. “If [the bill] is not approved, it will be easier to make changes in the Civil Code [in the future].”

“How can we support this law if this is another law that discriminates against us?” she asks.

Still others see Thai civil unions as a step towards ultimate marriage equality. Nada Chaiyajit, a local activist who the government consulted when crafting the draft bill and a trans woman herself, tells The Guardian, “It’s a big moment. They [ministers] have studied the UK and other countries and seen that the first step is civil unions. I’m confident that within five years they’ll put [full] marriage equality on the agenda.”

What do you think? Do you support Thai civil unions?

Featured image courtesy of The Nation

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