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Hundreds back civil unions at first public hearing in Bangkok

Thai government seeks public opinion on draft same-sex civil union bill
A Thai lesbian wedding. Same-sex couples in Thailand currently have no legal partnership rights.

Over 200 LGBT rights supporters turned-out on Friday to Thailand's first public hearing into granting partnership rights to same-sex couples.

The Thai government began to look into legalizing same-sex marriage last year. A committee of policy experts, lawyers and LGBT rights activists, including Anjana Suvarnananda, began to draft legislation a few months ago.

The hearing on Friday, held at Chandrakasem Rajabhat University in Bangkok on Friday, was the first of a series to gather public opinion on same-sex marriage.

The next public hearing will be in Chiang Mai in the northwest of Thailand on Friday (15 February) and Khon Kaen University in the northeast on 22 February. After that the public opinions gathered at the hearings will be scrutinized by the cabinet.

LGBT rights supporters say that if the cabinet rejects the bill then they will collect 10,000 supporting signatures of eligible voters and 20 MPs, Bangkok Post reports.

If the bill becomes law Thailand will become the first country in Asia to recognize same-sex partnership rights.

Governments in Taiwan and Vietnam are looking into similar legislation, but no plans to legalize same-sex unions are imminent in those countries.

Last June a Thai design company created an infographic outlining the issues that face same-sex couples in Thailand by showing how two university graduates, one gay and one straight, have different rights.

'Even though Eak pays tax and has the same citizen responsibilities as Ton. Yet Eak still cannot get married, even if he wants to,' said the narration to the animation. 

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