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Phuket Opinion: Partners for life

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Jeerattakarn Nuannum, 30, was born in Phuket and graduated from Phuket Rajabhat University. After joining Phuket’s renowned Simon Cabaret Show as a performer in 2002, the Phuket native became a fashion model at Phuket Pop Top Model in 2008.

Here, Jeerattakarn explains what rights the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community expect to be granted if Thailand moves ahead with approving same-sex marriage.

PHUKET: Everyone with a romantic partner wants to live together and be recognized as a couple. A marriage license ensures that recognition. It says that a couple have chosen each other as partners joined in marriage. For same-sex couples, it would show that we are not different from other couples.

The marriage license bestows societal respect and it is important for official processes.

Everyone wants the same rights as everyone else under Thai law; however, there are several rights that rank as most important, that same-sex couples should be granted.

For example, if I am incapacitated in an accident and I have to undergo a critical operation, my partner would be able to make decisions for me and authorize the surgery. I have heard of many cases where a partner has been unable to do this because they didn’t have the legal right. They didn’t have a license proving they were the patient’s life partner.

Another aspect is communal rights conferred to man and wife. Government officers can claim medical expenses for their spouses and family. They can also claim child-education expenses and other benefits. If same-sex couples could be legally married, they would have these rights too.

Marriage licenses also help when couples separate. When different-sex couples divorce, the law guarantees certain rights to each partner. Without this, the entire process is relegated to negotiation.

The institution of marriage symbolizes two people choosing to live together, to share their ideas and rights with each other, and marriage is a symbol of the beginning of a new life.

This is true for all couples, including same-sex partners. They too want a partner to love, cherish and care for. We have the same minds, the same feelings and the same attitudes towards our chosen partners as other couples.

Marriage is very important to me.

There is growing momentum in Thailand for same-sex couples to be married, especially in Phuket, but there are no rules or laws that legally uphold a gay wedding ceremony.

The move in Thailand to consider making same-sex marriage legal is very good news and should be introduced as quickly as possible. We are waiting to have the same rights as everyone else in the country.

The law can help everyone understand that we are not different from other people. We can all work and live together in harmony.

I think that everyone in the LGBT community and the LGBT support associations have a critical role to play in making same-sex marriages a reality.

There are associations in many cities across the country to help same-sex couples cope with difficulties in living in society, such as Andaman Power, located in Phuket, and the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, which is based in Bangkok.

In the past, it was very difficult to make Phuket people understand who I am. People would not even give me the chance to have a normal job. But Phuket has now transformed into a more open society because Phuket is now more multicultural and more international in its outlook.

People now understand who I am and they are ready to accept that people in the LGBT community can work and do everything else just as well as anyone else.

Having the legal support of same-sex marriages would help people to reach a new level of acceptance and understanding.

I would like people to open their minds and accept us and give us a chance just like other people because we are “same same, not different.”

— Irfarn Jamdukor

 

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