Thailand: Draft Legislation on Civil Partnerships for Same-Sex Couples

The Thai government plans to introduce landmark legislation on civil partnerships that would extend most marriage protections, rights, and benefits to same-sex couples. If approved by the Thai Parliament, it would be the first civil partnership law to be adopted in Southeast Asia.

Under the proposed law, drafted by a committee appointed by the Parliament, homosexual men and women who are at least 20 years of age would be permitted to enter into a civil partnership.  The draft defines “civil partners” as “two persons of the same sex who register their relationship under the civil partnership law,” and at least one of the partners must have Thai nationality.

The draft legislation provides that same-sex couples are to be accorded insurance, pension, tax reduction, and inheritance benefits, without the existing law on marriage being altered. The draft does not automatically permit adoption or custody of children as a couple, matters that are to be handled under other Thai laws; only individual filing for an adoption by one of the partners is allowed for those not in a traditional marriage.

The drafting committee has no specific timetable for introduction of the draft law, but indicated that parliamentary deliberation would most likely take about two months once the legislation is submitted.

Reportedly, no organized group has come out against the draft law, although some Thais contend it is unnecessary because they see Thai society as already being tolerant. Nevertheless, as recently as 2002 in Thailand homosexuality was considered a mental illness, and it is argued that adoption of the legislation would emphasize increased support in the country for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

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