Thailand’s getting back to working on same-sex unions for its nation, but how long will it take?
After taking a few months pause to edit their drafted bill on civil unions and roll in new government officials after election season, Thailand’s government is back to the matter of whether they should legalize same-sex unions. Back in December, the military government endorsed the Life Partnership Bill, but then the elections saw a flip of power within the legislative branch.
Now despite general approving of the bill, government officials are showing some hesitation on it. Specifically, the Justice Ministry’s Rights and Liberties Protection Division has decided to hold public forums to discuss the Life Partnership Bill. According to VoaNews, Justice Minister Somasak Thepsutin said at a forum in Bangkok last week that the bill’s fate should be “decided by public sentiment.”
But thankfully, the Thai public has so far supported the idea of same-sex unions. 63 percent of respondents to an online survey from back in February supported the idea. Then during the March elections, Thailand saw the first four openly LGBTQ lawmakers, all a part of the progressive Future Forward party, get elected into office.
Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, one of the four new lawmakers, says that the exposure of LGBTQ people in media is the result of the growing acceptance of LGBTQ life in Thailand.
“Many of us in every single section in our society talk about this, so they have to think,” said Tunyawaj, who is openly gay. “Before that they just believed in binary roles, just man and woman, right and wrong. But right now many mass communication and social media talk about this, so I believe they’re going to change.”
That said, Tunyawai his colleagues are not in favor of the Life Partnership Bill. This is because the proposed civil unions don’t provide certain rights like joint adoption.
“If we mention the current draft, it is not progress for us. It tries to control and manage LGBT people [rather] than to open freedom for marriage,” said Pongphorn, director of local LGBT rights group Mplus.
“The final drafting … separates us from the mainstream and doesn’t support us equally.”
But perhaps taking the long way is the way to go. This civil partnerships bill could be the first step in eventually bringing marriage equality to Thailand, according to some LGBTQ advocates.
“A life partnership bill, according to the history of so many countries, is the foundation to proceed to the amendment of the marriage law eventually,” said Rapeepun Jommaroeng, an adviser to the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand.
“We can study about the limitations and advantages. We can study about, if they have kids, what would happen. So it gives us the additional platform to move forward,” he said.
But will Thailand take that first step towards marriage equality. Right now, it looks very likely. But, it sure is taking its time (we’ve been reporting on this issue for two years now!). We’ll keep you updated as the country continues to walk towards civil unions and, eventually, gay marriage.