Critics say that the government’s same-sex civil union bill does not go far enough

Thailand’s cabinet endorsed a civil partnership bill on Wednesday that would recognize and allow same-sex unions with almost all the same legal rights as that of a married couple but critics and the LGBT community said that it does not go far enough and more work still needs to be done to ensure equality.

Activists, members of the LGBTQ community, and netizens have pointed out that a civil union bill is still vastly different from the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Soon after the news came out from the cabinet, a new hashtag #ไม่เอาพรบคู่ชีวิต (#NoSameSexUnionBill) became the number one trending on Twitter with netizens calling for a same-sex marriage law.

“The bill being passed down doesn’t grant us the same rights as the straight couples, which is different from the other bill proposed by the Move Forward Party,” said Anant Utchin, a Thai non-binary and lecturer on queer literature at Thammasat University’s faculty of liberal arts.

“So, in my opinion it is a bummer because it sends a message that we are somehow still no seen as equals.”

Tannawin Sukkhaphisit and Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, MPs of the Move Forward Party made an announcement shortly after on Wednesday clarifying the difference and said citizens should not be misguided – as the same-sex union bill still does not equate to marriage equality, a bill the representatives have been pushing for.

Unions is not the same as marriage, Tannawin explained, as marriage rights are tied by law with protection, rights, and support from the state.

The recognition of same-sex unions, therefore, hardly contributes to any progress made in protecting and supporting members of the LGBTQ community in Thailand.

“Marriage equality is equality,” Tanyawuj said. “And that will make everyone of equal importance and worth in society which is the basis of humanity.”

The same-sex union bill, if passed into law, will likely create more differentiation and exclusion between members of the society, Tannawin added.

The passing of the bill will further emphasize gender prejudice in Thai society as members of the LGBTQ community will need to go through different process to be accepted by the state.

“I think it is funny that marriages in Thailand still has to classify its citizens,” said Parkers Jose, a transgender student.

“This is no different from making LGBTQ members second class citizens.”

“I have a feeling that passing the civil union law will make it harder for a marriage equality law to get passed in the near future, because some people are bound to be like – those LGBTQ people can’t even get any satisfaction in this.”

The bill will now be voted on in parliament and if passed would make Thailand the second country in Asia after Taiwan to allow the registration of same-sex unions.

The law allows same-sex couples in Thailand to adopt a child together and give rights to inheritance and joint property ownership.

The bill states that at least one member of the couples will need to be a Thai citizen.

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