Bill gives hope to gay couples
Partners would get '90% of due rights'
Public hearings regarding a civil partnership bill for same-sex couples will be held from Nov 12-16 in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya and Songkhla, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) said Monday.
The law is expected to be enacted this year.
Kerdchoke Kasemwongjit, deputy director-general of the RLPD, said his agency is allowing people to express their views about the bill on its website. It is also opening venues for public hearings in the four provinces.
The 70-section bill is likely to be concluded and presented to the cabinet by this month, he said.
The Justice Ministry, which oversees the RLPD, and the public sector are working on adjusting the contents of the bill, which pays much attention to tackling problems the LGBT community faces in terms of family planning, Mr Kerdchoke said.
The bill, he said, will touch on assets same-sex couples obtain after they register their partnerships, as well as the handling of any inheritance they may be entitled to.
Mr Kerdchoke stressed that same-sex couples who register under the bill would be granted the status of partners rather than that of a married couple. Most academics and related agencies say the bill would grant same-sex couples 90% of the rights enjoyed by married couples.
The bill drafters have compared the legislation to similar laws adopted in foreign countries, he said.
Some countries grant same-sex couples the same rights as married couples while other nations classify same-sex couples based on the details of their relationship.
"Regarding the registering agency, the draft bill indicates clearly that the Department of Provincial Administration [under the Interior Ministry] would be responsible for [deciding their rights]," Mr Kerdchoke said.
The Interior, Justice, Foreign Affairs and Social Development and Human Security ministries would all be involved in the process, he added. Some could eventually be sidelined, however, when the cabinet deliberates the bill.
Based on the bill, homosexuals who want to register their partnership can apply at any district office, just like married couples, Mr Kerdchoke said.
Civil partnerships were introduced in the United Kingdom in 2004 to give same-sex couples similar tax treatment and legal rights as married couples.
France then introduced a similar law known as the Pacte Civil de Solidarité in 2009 to specifically give homosexual couples tax and state pension rights as well as next-of-kin status.
In Thailand, the first draft of the bill was issued in 2013. It was drawn up to ensure compliance with the country's national human rights plan, which took effect in 2014.
According to the bill, a same sex spouse has the right to possess the assets and property of their partner in the event of the latter's death. They also have the right to tax reductions and welfare benefits, including medical treatment, and the right to adopt a child. But they do not have the right to use their spouse's surname.