September 19, 2013 00:00
By Piyanut Tumnukasetchai
The government will soon start making official moves to legalise same-sex marriage in Thailand.
“We will put forward the same-sex civil-union bill in Parliament,” Naras Savestanan, director general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, announced yesterday with the chair of the House committee on justice and human rights, Viroon Phuensaen, by his side.
Naras said his department and the House committee had decided to put this bill before Parliament with the hope that same-sex partners would be able to enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples.
“The rights cover tax benefits, pension benefits and more,” he said, adding that once this bill takes effect, the civil union of same-sex couples would legally equal the registered marriage of men and women.
Naras called on supporters of the bill to sign a petition for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
“With these signatures, Parliament will realise that the public is backing this proposed law,” he said.
At the same press conference, Naras also announced the plan to push for two other bills. One is related to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, while the other seeks better protection for contracted farmers.
According to Naras, the first bill will amend the country’s criminal law in a manner that prescribes harsher punishment for officials involved in the torture or illegal detention of suspects.
The other bill, Naras said, should benefit more than 150,000 farmers working under contracts.
Naras said many farmers entered into contracts with big firms without knowing or understanding the contracts’ unfair conditions.
“For instance, though the contracts sound like farmers are getting paid for raising shrimp, chicken and fish, big firms might postpone buying these animals in the event of disasters. As a result, farmers may not earn anything,” he pointed out.
Naras said the proposed bill would call for the provision of standard contracts to ensure that farmers are not put at a disadvantage. “The contracts will also guarantee income for farmers,” he added.