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Thailand takes historic step towards giving same-sex couples legal recognition and adoption rights

Reiss Smith July 9, 2020
Women in pink dresses

Trans performers rally for LGBT+ rights in Bankok. (Getty/Lillian Suwanrumpha)

Thailand is set to become the first southeast Again country to legalise same-sex unions and allow queer couples to adopt – but will not introduce full marriage equality.

Same-sex couples could have their love recognised under a new bill approved by the Thai government Wednesday (July 8). It will now go to parliament to become law.

If it is passed, the bill would make Thailand the second Asian nation to recognise same-sex unions, after Taiwan in the east.

“This is an important step for Thailand in creating equality for everyone and guaranteeing rights for same-sex couples to start a family,” said Rachada Dhnadirek, spokeswoman for the government, per Bloomberg.

Thailand to introduce same-sex adoption rights.

Under the proposed law, same-sex couples would be able to adopt children and be given many of the same rights as married couples, letting them leave an inheritance to their partner and own property together.

The bill will only benefit couples where at least one person is Thai. Another shortfall is that couples would not be allowed to access each other’s state pensions, but this is something that the justice ministry’s Kerdchoke Kasamwongjit said could be introduced at a later date.

“Once it reaches the parliament, we can be 100 per cent certain that the bill will eventually become law,” said Kerdchoke.

Kittinan Daramadhaj, president of Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, told Reuters that if the bill becomes law, it will “sufficiently alleviate pains and support the human rights of LGBT people” – even if it doesn’t go as far as allowing them to marry.

“What’s in a name? It’s the content that matters,” he added.

“‘Civil partnership’ shouldn’t distract from the fact that it’s about the legal registration of unions.”

What’s in a name? It’s the content that matters.

Thailand, a mostly-Buddhist country, has cultivated an image of openness and is often promoted as a queer-friendly tourism hotspot.

Same-sex activity is legal, however trans people have no legal recognition.

A 2019 UN Development Programme study found that 69 per cent of cis straight Thais are accepting of LGBT+ people, however more than half of queer respondents reported verbal harassment, 16 per cent reported sexual assault, and 42 per cent said they have pretended to be straight be accepted at school, work or at home.

Almost half said they had contemplated suicide.

More: adoption, marriage equality, Thailand

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