The LGBTQ community in Thailand was dealt a serious setback today (Tuesday), when the cabinet rejected the Move Forward Party’s draft Marriage Equality Bill, which sought to legalise same-sex marriage in the country.
This, however, does not mean that the draft will be completely rejected, explained the non-profit Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), because it can still enter Parliament for a first reading.
Deputy Government Spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek told the media, after the weekly cabinet meeting today, that the draft Marriage Equality Bill is similar to the government’s draft Civil Partnership Bill, which has already been approved by the cabinet.
Although both drafts seek to extend several rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples, the civil partnership version has been criticised for not going far enough, such as not formally recognising the LGBTQ union as marriage. Other rights missing in the government’s draft include adoptions and rights to make decisions in case of emergencies, as well as married couples’ social security benefits.
In an interview with Thai PBS World in February, Move Forward Party MP Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, who was behind the marriage equality draft, said that the bill was meant to guarantee equal rights for LGBTQ couples in all respects and that the government may face greater pressure from society if the bill is rejected.
The cabinet assigned Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University to undertake further study on the same-sex marriage issue and to report its findings to the cabinet in April.
The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, meanwhile, have been assigned to review the draft Civil Partnership Bill, once the findings of the university’s study are available.
In February, the lower House voted to forward the Move Forward Party’s bill to the cabinet for consideration before its first reading, as proposed by PM’s Office Minister Anucha Nakasai.
Tunyawaj said during the House session that the right to a family is fundamental and is something that everyone in the society understands, but it is something that has been denied to the LGBTQ community, depriving them of their rights, dignity and welfare.
He said the draft Marriage Equality Bill is not a demand for something which does not exist, but seeks a fundamental right “which was taken away”.