Cabinet approves Civil Partnership bill

The Thai Cabinet yesterday (8 July) approved the Civil Partnership bill, which was proposed by the Ministry of Justice to allow for same-sex couples to register their partnership, and has submitted the bill to the House of Representatives Coordination Committee for consideration before it goes before Parliament.

The bill defines “civil partnership” as a union between two people of the same gender who have registered their union according to the bill, and states that both persons must be at least 17 years old to register as civil partners, and that one or both must be a Thai national.

The bill allows civil partners to adopt children, and gives them the power of attorney to act on behalf of their injured or dead partner in a legal proceeding according to the Criminal Procedure Code.

The bill also includes a section on properties between civil partners, which is separated into personal property and property acquired after entering into a partnership.

It also states that the articles in the Civil and Commercial Codes relating to inheritance apply to civil partners, and that Articles 1606, 1652, and 1563 of the Civil and Commercial Code may also apply to life partners. 

The Cabinet also approved another bill to amend the Civil and Commercial Code, so it says that a marriage or partnership cannot occur if the person is already the spouse or partner of another person and to include one spouse giving maintenance to or honouring another person as wife or husband or partner as a ground for divorce. The bill also proposes to amend the Civil and Commercial Code so that the right to receive alimony is extinguished if the party receiving the alimony remarries or registers a civil partnership.  

While these bills have been approved by the Cabinet, they will still have to be approved by Parliament before they become law.

However, these bills are different from the bill to amend the Civil and Commercial Code proposed by Move Forward Party MP Tunyawat Kamolwongwat, which proposes that the terminology used in the law be changed to use “spouse” instead of “husband” and “wife” and “person” instead of “man” and “woman” to allow individuals to be legally married regardless of gender and ensure they receive equal rights, duties, and protection under the law.

This bill is still currently up for public consultation on the parliament’s public consultation platform and, so far, 51637 people have participated in the survey.

Tunyawat, along with another Move Forward Party MP Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, issued a statement today stating that “civil partnership is not marriage equality” and that, because the term “civil partner” has not been used in Thai legislation before, the Civil Partnership bill does not give civil partners the same rights and protection as spouses.

Tanwarin also said that, if the Civil Partnership bill passes, it will deepen the stigma against the LGBT community in Thailand. She also asked why there is a need for separate legislation.

The Civil Partnership bill has previously been criticised by NGOs and LGBT rights activists for not giving LGBT couples the same rights as heterosexual couples and for focusing mostly on property, inheritance, and the right to act on behalf of one’s partner in a criminal proceeding.

It is also criticized for being unclear about whether a person in a civil partnership is allowed to make medical decisions on behalf of their partner, whether they are allowed to take their partner’s last name, receive benefit from their partner’s social security fund, or whether a civil partner who is a foreign national will be eligible for a marriage visa. The bill is also seen as relegating the LGBT community to the position of second-class citizens.

The hashtag #ไม่เอาพรบคู่ชีวิต (#SayNoToCivilPartnershipBill) also trended on Twitter today as netizens have spoken out against the two bills approved by Cabinet today, with many calling it “fake equality” and an act of discrimination against LGBT people. They also use the hashtag #สมรสเท่าเทียม (#MarriageEquality) to call on each other to support the bill to amend the Civil and Commercial Code proposed by Tunyawat.