Same sex civil unions: off to a good start

Same sex civil unions: off to a good start

The idea is not new, as this 2015 file photo shows. Campaigners call for public awareness on LGBT rights and same sex marriage during a parade in downtown Bangkok, organised by the Foundation for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights and Justice (FOR-SOGI). (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
The idea is not new, as this 2015 file photo shows. Campaigners call for public awareness on LGBT rights and same sex marriage during a parade in downtown Bangkok, organised by the Foundation for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Rights and Justice (FOR-SOGI). (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The momentum towards the passage of a law in Thailand to register same sex civil unions is most heartening and needs our fullest support. This is especially because it will legitimise mutual love and friendship without discrimination and without distinction.

In fact, there are three main issues to be addressed, bearing in mind that globally today, some 50 countries have laws to register same sex civil unions or marriages. Firstly, if there is to be a same sex civil union law, what are the lessons from other countries and what should be Thailand's path? Secondly, what of a law on same sex marriage? Thirdly, even where there is no law here on same sex civil union or marriage, is it possible to recognise civil unions or marriages registered abroad so as to facilitate access and residency by foreign couples in this country ?

Civil unions are basically partnership contracts between couples and they do not deal with the issue of whether religious personnel should be involved. There are at least three approaches to legitimise these partnerships. The first is the experience of France whose 1999 law adopted in a detailed manner key amendments to the French Civil Code and other laws, such as the Taxation Code and the Social Security Code, to confer benefits on same sex partners.

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Vitit Muntarbhorn

Professor of law at Chulalongkorn University

Vitit Muntarbhorn is a Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University. He has helped the United Nations (UN) in a number of positions, including as UN Special Rapporteur.

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