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Thailand's human rights commission supports same-sex partnerships

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Thailand's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)'s Taejing Siripanich has said that he supports partnership rights for same-sex couples.

However the NHRC is pushing for a new law to give same-sex partners rights, rather than legalizing marriage for gay couples.

'It would take too long to change everything,' said Siripanich. 'A new law could state that all rights given to married heterosexual couples must now also apply to same-sex married couples.'

Siripanich was speaking to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's Grace Poore at the International Lesbian and Gay Assocation (ILGA) Asia conference in Bangkok at the end of March.

The government has been holding public hearings into same-sex partnership rights around Thailand over the last few months and LGBT activists are collecting signatures for a petition in support.

A law has been drafted but it needs support of 20 MPs in order for it to be presented to parliament.

'Some of us including Anjaree group will seek opportunities to present our issues and some additional words/ clauses into the draft when it is being discussed at the parliament,' said Anjana Suvarnananda, founder of Thailand's first LGBTI rights group Anjaree to Gay Star News.

Anjaree is holding a seminar on 28 April to discuss the pros and cons of the current draft law. 

Thailand has an international reputation for acceptance of LGBT lifestyles, but although Thais are generally tolerant of Westerners, families and workplaces can be socially conservative.

It is not known if there is enough support from MPs to pass the law.

MP Wirath Kalayasiri of the opposition Democratic Party, supports extending legal rights same-sex partners, but he says 'it's very risky for me to support the bill', The Irrawaddy reports.

'There is a lot of teasing from my colleagues saying, "Wirath, are you becoming homosexual?" I know they were only joking, but it is still insulting,' said Kalayasiri.

If civil unions are legalized in Thailand, it will be the first country in Asia to do so.  

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