Thursday, October 17, 2019

Equal marriage rights ‘still a dream’

Jan 01. 2019
File photo // AFP PHOTO
File photo // AFP PHOTO
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By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
THE NATION

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IT IS NOT A 100 per cent certain that the Life Partnership Bill will become law this year and even if it does pass the legislation process and is finally enforced, there is no guarantee that it will give equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The dream of gender diverse people in Thailand to marry their loved ones and get the same benefits and rights as straight couples is still far from becoming reality, even though the Cabinet had on Christmas Day announced that it would recognise legal partnership between same-sex persons.

Natakamon Siwasilp, legal adviser to the Togetherness for Equality and Action (TEA) Group, said that even though the government had agreed to recognise same-sex marriage, LGBTQI couples will not get the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Also, this law itself is problematic, she said. 

“The biggest problem with this bill is its vagueness. As we can see in the latest draft, the drafters of this law do not truly understand marriage equality. Also, the draft itself is problematic as some articles are duplicated and the language is unclear,” Natakamon said.

“Some articles are written as if to say, ‘hey, we have already complied with your demands’, by listing the rights that we are entitled to. But the language of this bill does not guarantee that the rights mentioned in the list will be implemented in reality.” 

As of now, the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is set to consider and revise each article of the bill. However, she warned this bill will not enter the legislative process easily due to its poorly written language and ambiguity. 

“Owing to these problems, we truly don’t know when this bill will finally be approved or what it will look like after it is passed. We don’t know what marriage rights we will have,” she said. “So, we would like to urge the government to be clear in its policy on same-sex marriage. We want them to clear the ambiguity.” 

She also said the government’s proclamation that this bill has already passed Cabinet consideration can mislead the public, as not everybody has an understanding of the law-making process, nor do they realise that the Cabinet has only approved specific principles of this bill, not every detail of it. 

“News that the government has approved the Life Partnership Bill will make people think that members of the LGBTQI group have the same rights as straight couples,” she said. 

“The next time activists come out to campaign for equal rights, many people will argue that the government has already granted us these rights in the Life Partnership Bill.”

Meanwhile, NLA member Panu Uthairat disclosed to The Nation that the Life Partnership Bill has not been submitted to the NLA for consideration yet. “I want to assure you that no such bill has been passed on to NLA, so our Muslim and Christian friends can be relieved.”

He added that issue of same-sex marriage is still very controversial, so the Life Partnership Bill should be considered cautiously. 

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