Thailand’s lower house passes Marriage Equality Bill (first reading)
Yesterday, Thailand’s Parliament passed the Marriage Equality Bill in the first reading with 210 votes in favour, 180 votes in opposition and 4 abstentions. The bill – previously rejected by Cabinet in March – was pushed by Thailand’s Move Forward Party. A parliamentary committee has been set up to scrutinise the bill over the next 15 days before it is submitted for its second and final readings in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow same-sex marriage in Thailand, an abrupt change to the current situation.
Earlier this month, the Cabinet passed the Civil Partnership Bill, drafted by the Justice Ministry, which would allow same-sex couples to register their partnerships, but not get married. The Civil Partnership Bill offers similar privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples, such as adopting children, jointly managing assets and making decisions regarding medical treatment on behalf of their partners. But not ‘marriage’ as defined under Thailand’s Marriage Act.
Yesterday, a group of LGBTQ+ protestors gathered outside parliament to call for the Cabinet to pass the Marriage Equality Bill, which would make Thailand’s marriage laws applicable to any couple regardless of their gender. The protestors reject the Civil Partnership Bill, stating that they want equality and not special treatment.
The Marriage Equality Bill proposes that the terminology in Thailand’s current marriage laws are changed from “husband” and “wife” to “spouse,” and from “man” and “woman” to “person.” If the bill is successful in furthur readings, same-sex couples will be able to enjoy all the same rights and privileges currently enjoyed by married couples in Thailand, such as adopting children, making medical decisions on behalf of their partners and inheriting from their partner in the case that they die.
Parliament also passed the government’s Civil Union Bill in the first reading yesterday, which has some similarities but is more limited than the Marriage Equality Bill. There were 229 votes in favour, 166 votes in opposition and 6 abstentions. Some activists are worried that If the Civil Union Bill gets through future readings, it could become a possible hurdle for the Marriage Equality Bill, threatening its chances of becoming a reality.
Two more bills aimed at some sort of civil union accommodating couples of all genders were also passed by Parliament yesterday.
During the debate, Move Forward Party MP Thanyawaj Kamolwongwat told Parliament the LGBTQI+ community were calling for the rights that rightly belonged to them, and they deserved to get married without discrimination…
“The Parliament would show it had an open mind if it adopted [the Marriage Equality Bill]. It would be a victory not for the Move Forward Party but for the people.”
Whereas Democrat MP Issara Seriwatthanawut pushed for the Civil Partnership Bill, saying it is more open than the Marriage Equality Bill because it stipulates that a marriage can be a union between people of any gender.
With all 4 bills making it through their first reading yesterday, the session in Parliament was considered by many to be a step in the right direction towards equal rights in Thailand.
SOURCE: Saksith Saiyasombut
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