Despite being considered one of the world’s most tolerant societies, Thailand is unlikely to bless same-sex marriages any time soon.
Efforts to legalize the status of same-sex couples in Thailand have been dealt harsh blows recently. The Constitutional Court’s ruling last month supported the Civil and Commercial Code’s edict that only marriage between a man and woman is constitutional. Later it went even further in its explanation of the ruling, which seemed to reflect prevailing prejudices against Thailand’s LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed) community.
In response, many from the LGBTQI community vented their frustration online, complaining the verdict portrayed them as less than human and as a minority trying to overthrow the culture of the majority.
“Viewed pessimistically, the ruling does not honor the humanity of LGBTQI people and is sexist,” said Kittinun Daramadhaj, president of the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand. “But seen optimistically, it will bolster chances for the Life Partner Bill to be passed in Parliament.”
Legal standing for same-sex couples
Drafted by the Justice Ministry, the Life Partner Bill has already won approval from the Cabinet. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam says he expects the draft law to enter Parliament during its current session.
“The draft has already been reviewed by the Council of State,” he pointed out.
Kittinun, who is also a lawyer who helped draft the Life Partner Bill, revealed that efforts to push for legalization of same-sex marriage in Thailand have been dragging on since 2012.
Thanks to a continuous push by advocates, a draft Civil Partnership Bill was eventually initiated by the Justice Ministry in 2013 but fell apart before it could enter Parliament.
Civil society and non-governmental organizations then advocated the Life Partner Bill but owing to the country’s political situation and complexities of the law, no significant progress has been made. Eventually, the Life Partner Bill became the responsibility of the Justice Ministry.
“I must say this version has made a big leap from what we saw in 2012. Initially, same-sex partnership [as defined in the old version] was only about 5 per cent similar to marriage between a man and a woman. But the current version has 95 per cent similarity,” Kittinun said.
He is also confident that the draft law will win parliamentary approval – provided it sails through under the current government.
“Yet I’m not so sure the bill will reach Parliament in time,” he said, pointing out that even