Thailand Inches Toward Same Sex Partnership

Wirat Kalayasiri, a Democrat MP and an advocate of LGBT rights, giving an award to Treechada ?Poy? Petcharat, 18 September 2013

(19 September) Thai
officials are considering a bill that would recognise the civil partnership between same-sex
couples, along with other legal rights currently available to heterosexual couples.

In a
press conference yesterday, Pol.Col. Naras Savestanan, director of the Rights and Liberties
Protection Department and Pol.Maj.Gen. Viroon Phuensean, the chairman of the House Committee on
Justice and Human Rights, said the bill would be debated by Parliament very
soon.

The bill, the officials said, will allow
individuals to register for a civil partnership regardless of their genders, and will rectify the
lack of rights for same-sex couples in the existing laws, such as inheritance rights and the rights
to be consulted by doctors in making vital decision as spouses of the patients.

The
officials termed the proposed bill as a commitment to the Thai Constitution which prohibits gender
discrimination. Many LGBT rights advocates have reportedly been consulted about the
draft.

Although the bill is a step short of full-scale gay marriage, the proposed
civil partnership is an exceptional attempt of liberal legislation in the mostly conservative
kingdom.

If passed, the bill will also set Thailand apart from much of the Southeast Asian
region, where LGBT attitude is generally less tolerated. Malaysia, for instance, has a law
criminalising sodomy.

Thailand is well-known for its relatively open atmosphere toward the
LGBT community. Gay and lesbian couples are not uncommon sight, while ?Ladyboys? are much
more visible throughout the nation. But there has been little or no debate in the governmental level
about the need to recognise the legal rights of LGBT individuals until recently.

Members of
LGBT community and activists welcomed the step toward the Parliamentary debate. Treechada ?Poy?
Petcharat, the male-born winner of 2004 Miss Tiffany Beauty Contest and an active support of the bill,
said the development is long overdue.

Humans are humans, regardless of their gender,
Treechada said.

Pilaiwan Boonlon, a playwright and a well-known
HIV prevention activist, commented that when couples enter into a marriage or a civil partnership, they tend to be less promiscuous, no matter what gender they are.

When
promiscuity is less practised, the chance to be infected with sexually-transmitted diseases is
lower, Pilaiwan said.

However, Yollada Suanyos, director of the
Trans-Female Association of Thailand, said the proposed bill left out the rights of transgender
individuals, such as the right to change gender honorifics in front of their names in official
documents.

Currently, official documents in Thailand adopts the honorifics of Mr., Miss, and
Mrs.

Nevertherless, the director of the association said she agreed with other aspects of
the civil partnership bill, saying that gays and lesbians should receive equal treatment to
heterosexuals under the Thai laws.