New bill offers some hope to LGBT community
THE THAI JUSTICE Ministry has kicked off public hearings on the proposed Life Partnership Bill that is scheduled to be submitted to the Cabinet this month.
The Life Partnership Bill has no less than 70 sections, but the elaborate legislation excludes some basic rights for same-sex couples, many said at the first public hearing stage yesterday arranged by the Rights and Liberties Protection Department at Miracle Grand Convention Hotel.
The Rights and Liberties Department, under the Justice Ministry, is holding hearings in five areas – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen and Ayutthaya – to hear public opinion on the bill beginning yesterday until November 16.
File photo: The Nation Photo
The Life Partnership Bill guarantees same-sex couples the right to inherit the spouse’s property and assets, and the right to co-manage family property and liabilities. They cannot, however, arrange legally the funeral for their spouses, make emergency medical decisions, adopt children or receive spousal welfare benefits.
“We feel like we’re being betrayed,” said Vitaya Saeng A-Roon, an openly gay columnist, during the opinion-hearing stage. He said it was sad that LGBT parents cannot legally co-adopt a child.
Akekawat Pimsawan, an LGBT rights activist, said the bill was discriminatory. It is not just the rights [of LGBT people] that are lost, but also their pride, he said.
“We barely get anything,” said Kittinun Daramadhaj, president of Rainbow Sky Association, and a member of one of the subcommittees tasked with drafting the bill. The minimum age for gay couples to enter into civil partnership is 20, compared to 17 for heterosexual civil marriage, he said.
Kittinun, however, believed the bill was the stepping stone to later revise the Civil and Commercial Code regarding marriage. “We wanted to eventually change the definition of marriage from a union of a man and a woman to a union of two individuals,” he said.
“Many LGBT communities are now turning to Civil and Commercial Code [regarding marriage], but I think we have to look at what we have achieved so far and then plan for what we should do next,” he said.
Vitit Muntarbhorn, an ex-UN Independent Expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, said the bill was an important step, especially in a society that had different views on same-sex marriage. “We need to live together with people who have different views,” he said.
However, he pointed out that the bill would grant civil partnership provided that one of them is a Thai and does not specify if it recognises couples who have entered into same-sex marriages overseas.
A Life Partnership Bill is in its final stages. After the department collects public opinions and makes final revisions, the bill will be forwarded to the Cabinet for approval and submitted to the National Legislative Assembly to become law.
The department also assured that the bill would be before the Cabinet by the end of November.