Ensuring equal rights as a stepping stone for Thai society

By September 4, 2020 September 8th, 2020 Advocacy, Newsroom

Kittinun Daramadhaj, President of Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand

Kittinun Daramadhaj is the President of Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, the Director of Purple Sky Network and M-CAB Thailand, Chief of the Sub-committee on Gender Discrimination Diagnosis and an eminent committee member of the Ministry of Justice. He has been advocating for access to sexual health services and rights of LGBTQI people for over 18 years.

The Civil Partnership Bill started in 2012 when two men decided to register their marriage at a district office in Chiang Mai, Thailand. However, the officer refused their request because they are a same-sex couple. This was the starting point of the movement. Until now there are six versions of the Civil Partnership Bill that have been drafted. Moreover, many civil society groups have become our ally to help and support this issue. Mr. Kittinun was appointed as one of the working group committee members responsible for working with NGOs.

“Through our work we have attempted to release a perfect bill and it finally went to the legal committee. However, drafts of the bill have been amended to this current version, which was decided on through a public hearing in all four regions in Thailand.”

On July 8, 2020, the bill was submitted and the cabinet reached an agreement for the parliamentarians to vote, then for the senators to decidebefore going to the Constitutional Court, and then for the bill to be signed by the King. The whole process will likely take some time and there is no guarantee that the Bill will pass. However, the bill has gone through many public hearings, despite the fact that the bill does not provide real equality as heterosexual marriage, since the government is driving this process it might actually it passed.   

There are many LGBTQI groups from sectors within civil society that give significance to the Civil Partnership Bill as they have taken part in its drafting and promoting process. There are two major groups when it comes to the current Civil Partnership Bill, such as the LGBTQI on one hand who thinks that the bill will benefit their community, although some LGBTQI people find this Bill not truly equal to that of heterosexual marriage. And on the other hand, heterosexual people who thinks that this Bill doesn’t apply to them or encroach upon their lives.

The Civil Partnership Bill gives benefit, such as:

  • Consent of medical service for the spouse
  • Ability to take legal proceeding in place of the spouse
  • Right to jointly own assets
  • Right to jointly adopt children
  • Rights to transfer and acquire inheritance

Groups that oppose this Bill not only include those that would like to see it be the same as heterosexual marriage, but also include religious groups too. However, Thailand is a secular state which claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of a specific religion, thus, it does not significantly affect the movement.

Mr. Kittinun also addressed that although the Civil Partnership Bill does not provide equality as the heterosexual marriage certificate does, but it should cover a majority of the LGBTQI people’s needs. In many countries around the world they also started from a civil partnership bill and then developed into a same-sex marriage law.

Both the Civil Partnership Bill and the amendment of the Civil and Commercial Code should be developed together, as both of them are applicable to all citizens. The working group shall work effectively to increase a good understanding for the general public. However, there are some issues in the Bill in its current draft that should be amended, such as the use of the term “male and male”, “female and female” to be amended to “all genders”. The term “male and female” in the Section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code should also be amended to “all genders” as well. This amendment could be processed at the same time with no friction from any group as they are not yet finalized. The idea is that all couples can then have a choice to choose how they would like to register their partnership.

Mr. Kittinun also noted that he wants everyone in the society to benefit from this Bill, although it is not one hundred percent perfect as the LGBTQI community never benefited from any laws in the past till now.

“At least we can amend it in the future. As a matter of fact, we see the case in other countries, such as Taiwan. We will see that their gay marriage is not completely equal to heterosexual marriage,” he adds.

“If Thai people wait to get equality as a heterosexual couple, it is perhaps a long way to go. Right now, we have a chance, so let’s grab it and amend the Bill with Section 1448 in the Civil and Commercial Code, aiming for equality for same-sex marriage.”

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