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UPDATE: Thai Cabinet approves civil partnership bill

Jack Burton

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PHOTO Gay Star News
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The Thai cabinet has today endorsed a bill allowing registration of same-sex couples, as well as legal amendments to ensure same-sex couples have the same rights and privileges as opposite-sex couples. The bill and the amendment will now be put to a vote in the Thai parliament.

The government’s deputy spokeswoman says the new Civil Partnership Bill and the amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code will “ensure fairness for people of all gender identification”. The bill defines civil partners as couples born with the same sex. Marriage registration will be available to consenting same-sex couples who are at least 17 years old. One or both must be Thai.

“The Civil Partnership Bill is a milestone for Thai society in promoting equality among people of all genders… This strengthens the families of people with sexual diversity and is appropriate for the present social circumstances.”

But the bill is already coming under heavy criticism. A “No to Civil Partnership Bill” hashtag is trending on Thai social media saying the new bill isn’t equivalent to marriage. They point out that the bill doesn’t ensure the same rights as those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples, and it doesn’t recognise engagement of same sex couples.

Minors who seek such civil partnership certification must have the consent of their parents, legal guardians or a court.

Spouses of civil partners will have the same legal rights as married husbands and wives, notably including with regard to personal and jointly-held property. Civil partners can adopt a child, or a partner can adopt an adoptive child of a spouse. When a partner dies, the survivor will have the same inheritance rights as conventional married couples under the Civil and Commercial Code. Sections of the code concerning married couples will also apply to civil partners.

The amended Civil and Commercial Code will prohibit a man or a woman from getting married if he or she already has a civil partner. A man or a woman can face a divorce lawsuit if he or she treats someone else as a civil partner.

Some of the key points of the Bill include…

  • Consenting same sex couples, who want to register their partnership, must be at least 17 years old and at least one must be a Thai national
  • In case the same sex couple are minors, they must have the consent of their parents, guardians or the court. After the registration of the partnership, the minors will be regarded as adults
  • Either member of the same sex partnership can act on behalf of the other, as with a heterosexual married couple.
  • A same sex couple can adopt a child
  • In case one of the partners dies, the survivor has the same rights and duties as a surviving heterosexual spouse

The Justice Ministry, which proposed the bill and the legal amendments, will monitor the effectiveness of the changes and plan other legal amendments to ensure compliance with those already enacted.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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