New Civil Partnership Bill in Thailand passed by the cabinet

Now the Bill needs to survive its first reading in the lower house of the Thai parliament.

Out of nowhere, but perhaps inspired, or prompted by the Pride Month activities around Bangkok, the Thai cabinet has approved what is considered the next step towards same sex marriage in Thailand, a Civil Partnership Bill. This bill will allow same-sex couples to ‘register’ their partnership, not get legally married.

The new Bill defines a civil partnership as a “couple born with the same gender”. Civil unions would become available to consenting same-sex couples who are at least 17 years old. At least one must be a Thai national.

In June 2020, the opposition Move Forward Party decided to go ‘all in’ in 2020 when they introduced a bill to legalise same-sex marriage. Public consultation on the Bill was launched in July and drew broad support.

Then the government referred to Bill to the Constitutional Court in 2021.

The Court ruled that the Civil and Commercial Code interpreted that marriages as “only between women and men” would be considered constitutional. The ruling also included phrases saying that members of the LGBTQ community “cannot reproduce, as it is against nature, and they are unlike other animals with unusual behaviours or physical characteristics”.

The Constitutional Court verdict also cites LGBTQ citizens as a “different species that needs to be separated and studied as it is incapable of creating the delicate bond of human relationships”.

The ruling seemingly put the issue back many decades. So this new Bill, to at least recognise same sex partnerships was welcomed by Thailand’s LGBTQ community.

Read about the 2 decade long struggle for same sex marriage in Thailand HERE.

The Council of State has already checked the revised Civil Partnership Bill and the required legal amendments which were then considered by the Cabinet yesterday. It will now go to the parliament’s lower house for debate and a vote.

Whilst not a legal ‘marriage’, the civil partners will have many of the same legal rights in Thailand as married couples in relation to personal and jointly held property, the right to adopt children and inheritance rights. The Bill also prohibits a man or a woman from getting married if they are already in a civil partnership.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says that the Civil Partnership Bill was a response to “global changes, particularly gender equality and sexual diversity”. He noted that Bill would provide “fundamental human rights that must be protected in line with international principles”, as reported by Bangkok Post.

Some members of the ruling coalition have already foreshadowed that they will vote against the bill in Parliament, including the public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul. Despite this, the Bill is expected to have broad bi-partisan support and survive its passage through the lower house.

The Senate, all hand-picked by the military Junta that oversaw the coup in May 2014, will then need to deliberate the Bill. But the support the Thai PM will be a strong force for the Bill to pass through the Thai parliament.

Thailand News

Tim Newton

Tim joined The Thaiger as one of its first employees in 2018 as an English news writer/editor and then began to present The Thaiger's Daily news show in 2020, Thailand News Today (or TNT for short). He has lived in Thailand since 2011, having relocated from Australia.

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