- September 19, 2013
Post submitted by Jane Thirikwa, HRC Global Engagement Fellow
Thailand's government is preparing to review a 'civil unions' bill for the recognition of same-sex couples in union. Thai law currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Naras Savestanan, the director general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, said in a press conference that under the bill, same-sex civil unions would become the legal equivalent of a marriage of a straight couple. As such, same-sex couples would receive the same rights and benefits as lawfully-married heterosexual couples, including taxes and pension benefits.
Thailand's Committee on Legal Affairs, Justice and Human Rights took up the issue of legal recognition for same-sex relationships in Fall 2012. Since then, the government has invited civil society representatives to advise on an information committee and has held numerous public hearings to debate the legislation.
Accompanied by Viroon Phuensaen, the chair of the House committee on justice and human rights, Savestanan encouraged supporters of the civil unions bill to sign an additional petition to demonstrate that public opinion supports the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country.
Known for its laissez-faire attitude, Thailand has positioned itself as a holiday destination for same-sex couples and could soon be cashing in on another niche market if the proposed law makes it the first Asian country to pass marriage equality. Homosexuality was decriminalized in Thailand in 1956, but was considered as a mental illness until 2002.