Thailand’s military government is holding public consultations on same-sex unions and may pass legislation before the end of the year.
The Life Partnership bill could be considered by cabinet by the end of the month, local media reported.
The 70-section bill would grant same-sex or gender diverse couples tax reductions, welfare benefits, and the right to inherit property. It is akin to the UK’s 2004 Civil Partnership legislation.
It does not include the right to adopt a child, according to the Nation.
Kerdchoke Kasemwongji from the Ministry of Justice said it would grant same-sex couples 90 per cent of the rights enjoyed by married couples, according to the Bangkok Post.
Public consultations will be held online and in five major cities until 20 November. Cabinet will then decide whether to enact the legislation.
The bill was first drafted in 2013.
First in Asia
Thailand is, therefore, emerging as the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex unions.
Thailand’s military government wants to pass a Civil Partnership Act before elections slated for February next year.
‘The [Thai] junta wants to pass [the act] before elections in order to help them gain support from the LGBTI community, as well as from the international community’ Titipol Phakdeewanich, Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, Ubon Ratchathani University, told Gay Star News last month.
‘Now [the military] are doing everything to increase their popularity’, he said. The junta is keen to shore up support ahead of the first elections since it assumed power in a 2014 coup.
Predominantly-Buddhist Thailand is conservative, but the country is becoming more accepting of LGBTI individuals. It has long been an LGBTI tourist destination.
Titipol said the junta was doing the bare minimum by holding consultations in only four provinces. Many LGBTI Thai may not get a say in the legislation.
‘I think the Junta primarily bases its decision on its political expediency, rather than a genuine intention to promote rights and equalities of LGBT people within Thailand’ he told Gay Star News on Tuesday.
Taiwan, meanwhile, made headlines in May 2017. The country’s top court ruled not recognizing same-sex unions was unconstitutional.
It gave the government two years to legislate marriage equality before it became legal by default.
But Taiwan’s legislature has been slow to act. In just a few weeks, the country will hold referenda on whether to change the Civil Code or introduce new, separate legislation.