Thailand is getting closer to legalizing same-sex marriage

Thai lawmakers approved four different bills on same-sex unions in the first reading on Wednesday, getting closer to becoming the second territory in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, Reuters reports.

Thailand has one of the most open and visible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities, adding to its image of tolerance and liberal tourist attraction for foreign tourists.

But activists say Thai laws and institutions do not yet reflect social attitudes and still discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples.

The four projects approved on Wednesday each seek to give same-sex partners almost all the legal rights that heterosexual couples enjoy.

The government said last week that it would create a law on civil partnership between people of the same sex. Another Democratic Party civil partnership project was also approved.

A more liberal project on marriage equality from the opposition party Moving Forward has passed, despite efforts by ruling party leaders to reject it. The draft provides for the replacement of gender terms in existing legislation and to make marriage applicable to all persons.

“This is a very good sign,” said Chumaporn “Waddao” Taengkliang of the Rainbow Coalition for Equal Marriage.

“There should be the same standard for all genders, whether it’s a civil union or marriage.”

The Constitutional Court ruled last year that the current Thai marriage law, which recognizes only heterosexual couples, is constitutional, but recommended that the legislation be extended to ensure the rights of other genders.

The adoption of the project comes as a result of the first official “pride” parade in Thailand, where thousands of people waved flags and demanded liberal reforms.

So far in Asia, only Taiwan has legalized same-sex unions.

LGBT activists in Thailand have criticized the two government-backed projects, arguing that no special law is needed for same-sex couples, only amendments to make existing laws more inclusive.

The four bills will be debated by a 25-member committee, which will decide whether to send any of these proposals, or a consolidated bill, to the House for two more readings before the senate and royal approval.

Editor: AC

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