IN THEIR fight for marriage equality, LGBTQI rights defenders have decided to adopt a three-pronged approach – getting the Life Partnership Bill revised, the Civil Code amended and getting the Constitutional Court to make the institution of marriage equal for one and all.
Meanwhile, Kerdchoke Kasamwongjit, deputy director-general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on Monday that the Life Partnership Bill has been revised as per the Cabinet’s suggestions and submitted to the Justice Ministry on Friday.
Though details of the changes were not revealed, Kerdchoke said the Justice Ministry will look at the draft and return it to the Cabinet this month before it goes to the National Legislative Assembly.
However, Kittinun Daramadhaj, president of the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, said that even though the Life Partnership Bill is becoming law, it cannot be considered a success, because LGBTQI couples will not have the same rights as straight married couples.
“Due to the Cabinet, the NLA and Thai authorities’ conservative views, I doubt if their version of the Life Partnership Bill will guarantee LGBTQI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex] couples the same rights as straight couples. I doubt if LGBTQI couples will have the right to adopt or surrogate a child, be given tax benefits or the right to receive the spouse’s welfare or pension,” Kittinun said.
Hence, he said, LGBTQI groups were now working together to push on three fronts to achieve their goal of allowing all citizens to marry and create a family, as well as get equal rights and benefits from their marriage.
Kittinun said the first option, which has the highest chance of success, would be to fight for equal rights through the Life Partnership Bill.
“We all accept that despite the bill’s imperfections, it allows people to seek amendments both before and after the bill becomes law,” he said.
“Though LGBTQI and straight couples get married using two different laws, if these laws are exactly the same and can guarantee the same rights and benefits to everybody, then I see no problems with it.”
The other option, he said, is to push for an amendment to the Civil Code, so it allows two individuals to marry regardless of their gender.
“The first choice would be to collect 10,000 signatures and propose for the Civil Code to be amended, while the second would be to use the power of the Gender Equality Act and file a complaint about discrimination against LGBTQI couples with the Ombudsman.
This way, the Ombudsman can take this issue to the Constitutional Court to get the Civil Code amended,” he said.
However, he said the third option is the riskiest as the court could very well point out that the marriage law in the Civil Code does not violate the gender equality principle that is enshrined in the Constitution.