Five months ago, Thailand progressed on the Marriage Equality Bill to amend the Civil and Commercial Code proposed by Thanyawat Kamolwongwat, a party-list representative of Kao Klai Party. It received more than half of the votes in the House of Representatives and passed into the first term narrowly at 212 to 180 votes. However, from that day to January 2023, the act has never been voted to be legally functioning.
On 17 January 2023, APCOM Foundation together with the Embassy of the Netherlands invited partners for a round table discussion, including representatives from the Human Rights Foundation, Rainbow Coalition for Marriage Equality, For-SOGI Foundation, Fortify Rights, Thai Lawyer for Human Rights , Manushya foundation, Political party representatives from Thai Sang Thai Party, Kao Klai Party and Democrat Party that share common interest and are involved in this issue were also present to discuss the progress of the Marriage Equality Bill to be brought into the agenda for consideration in the parliament and genuinely became a part of the Thai legal system.
“We all know that the Equal Marriage bill has never been easy and it should not be easy. Although the Netherlands has passed it already, we can also not tell exactly what to do because every country is different. What we can do is to co-organize the session offering the safe space so that the key stakeholders can meet and discuss for the next step of it,”remarked HE Remco van Wijngaarden, the Dutch Ambassador to Thailand.
Some highlights from the discussion were:
- The Marriage Equality Bill consideration has been completed at the committee level waiting for the council to vote on agenda 2 and 3. The challenge is the possibility of the dissolution of the parliament by March which will affect this bill. The meeting therefore decided to push for consideration to be completed in February 2023.
- Even though, at present, there are 2 bills including the Civil Partnership Bill and Marriage Equality Bill, the public sector has expressed their intention that they only want the Marriage Equality Bill to demonstrate their standpoint of true human rights equality.
- For the consideration of the Bill in February 2023, the meeting was of the opinion that there should be advocacy in various forms from all sectors, for instance:
- Submitting a letter to the President of the National Assembly to bring the Marriage Equality Bill to consideration promptly.
- Seeking cooperation from each political party to ensure that as many MPs as possible attend the meeting in order to achieve the quorum requirements to have sufficient votes to debate the proposed legislation.
- The civil society and public sector, together must voice our clear stance in favors of the Marriage Equality Bill through sharing stories, opinions through various channels
- The media sector should help to spread the stories regarding the movement to a wider range of people
- The business sector must be sincere in their support to campaign activities in regard to the Marriage Equality Bill throughout the year, not only during the Pride Month in June.
- Additionally, there might be further diplomatic routes for persuading all eight UN member states who submit their opinions on Thailand’s human rights practices (UPR) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“It is accepted that some people in the parliament are not really into this topic. However, we do not give up. We still convince them every day that it is about Human Rights. Usually, political parties will give more attention when it is a social agenda that likely impacts most of the population. Therefore, the public sector and CSOs should also push it to be the social trend, while we are driving it in the parliament.”Tankhun Jittitsara from the Democrat Party, added
“This discussion is very useful. It allows us to exchange and think about the strategy to mobilize the Marriage Equality Bill in Thailand. Importantly, it connects us, as NGOs, to the political parties and focal persons who stand for the same thing. If we run the session by ourselves, it would be much more difficult to meet all of them like this and it would not go anywhere. Thank you very much for this,”said Mookdapha Yangyeunparadorn of Fortify Rights.
From now on, our team is going to hold another meeting this month to establish a concrete operation plan and there will be more people involved to be invited to participate so as to expand the results and take action as promptly and effectively as possible prior to the consideration.
The participants agreed to hold another meeting this month to establish a more concrete operational plan, and also to expand the stakeholders involved in this kind of forum to take action together for LGBTQI equality.