Thailand Reviews Civil Partnership Bill

The bill will allow same-sex couples to register their partnership, a momentous move in what remains a largely conservative nation

On June 5th, Thailand’s first official Pride Parade took place. As thousands of people gathered in the Silom area and raised flags representing the LGBTQ+ spectrum in celebration and support of gender equality, many called for same-sex marriages to be legalized in the country. Subsequently, the Cabinet approved the Civil Partnership Bill, which will allow same-sex couples to register their partnership and have similar rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.

The bill is now on its way to Parliament for approval before it can become law. If passed, Thailand would make history by becoming the first Southeast Asian country to approve same-sex unions and the second in Asia after Taiwan, which legalized same-sex marriage three years ago in 2019.

Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said on June 7 that the Cabinet endorsed an earlier version of the bill, which was sponsored by the justice ministry in July 2020. However, the government needed to study the bill for justification and to receive adequate public feedback. “The Civil Partnership Bill is a milestone for Thai society in promoting equality among people of all genders. This strengthens the families of people with sexual diversity and is appropriate for the present social circumstances,” Dhnadirek said back in July 2020.

Despite not using the term “marriage”, the bill will allow same-sex couples to be able to jointly own property, adopt children, and have inheritance rights between partners for the first time. However, LGBTQ+ activist and secretary-general of progressive youth organization Free Youth Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree said that the bill isn’t a milestone for gender equality in Thailand but rather “an obstacle to reaching marriage for all.”

Future Lister Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, who is a filmmaker and the first trans member of Parliament under the Move Forward Party, also weighed in on the legislation, saying, “Just call everyone, both traditional and non-traditional couples, as married partners. This is another form of discrimination in disguise. We don’t want anything special. We just want to be treated like others.”