Thailand moves closer to legalizing same-sex unions

BANGKOK, June 15 (Reuters) – Thai lawmakers on Wednesday passed four different same-sex union bills in their first reading, moving closer to becoming the second jurisdiction in Asia to legalize same-sex marriages.

Thailand has one of the most open and visible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in Asia, which reinforces its image of tolerance and attraction as a liberal holiday destination for tourists. strangers.

But activists say Thai laws and institutions have yet to reflect changing social attitudes and continue to discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples.

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The four projects approved on Wednesday each aim to give same-sex partners nearly the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.

The cabinet approved two last week that would create same-sex civil partnership legislation. Another Democratic Party civil partnership bill was also approved.

A more liberal Equal Marriage Bill from the opposition party Move Forward also passed, despite efforts by government whips to defeat it. This project aims to replace gender-specific terms in existing laws and make marriage applicable to all.

“It’s a very good sign,” said Chumaporn “Waddao” Taengkliang of the Rainbow Coalition for Marriage Equality, referring to the bills’ approval.

“There should be the same standard for all genders, whether it’s a civil union or a marriage.”

Last year, the Constitutional Court ruled that Thailand’s current marriage law, which only recognizes heterosexual couples, was constitutional, but recommended that the legislation be broadened to guarantee the rights of other genders.

The passage of the bills follows last week’s first official Pride parade in Thailand, where thousands of people waved rainbow flags and called for liberal reforms. Read more

So far in Asia, only Taiwan has legalized same-sex unions.

Thai LGBT activists have criticized the two government-backed bills, arguing that 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 one of these, or a consolidated bill, to the chamber for two more readings, before approval by the Senate and then by the king.

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Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Martin Petty and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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