Same-sex couples fight civil union rights

Same-sex couples fight civil union rights

Same-sex couples have vowed to fight for their right to civil union after their attempt to seek marriage certificates on Valentine's Day was rejected.

Though many men and women tied the knot on Friday at Bangkok Yai district, same-sex couples found themselves rejected.

"When I sought to register my civil union at the district office, the registrar insisted it was impossible because both of us are men. Even worse, we were told that our marriage violates the law," Chaiyut Patcharayut, 29, told the Bangkok Post.

Without legal marriage, Mr Chaiyut said he and his partner cannot enjoy state welfare benefits that are extended to lawfully wed couples. Mr Chaiyut and his partner Mr Patcharamon Patcharayut, a pharmacist at a state hospital, expected to be rejected, but decided to challenge the law anyway.

A group of same-sex couples had gone to the registration office on Friday to lobby for LGBTQ civil unions. The group works with the Foundation for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity's Rights and Justice (FOR-SOGI). On Valentine's Day last year, the group went to Phasi Charoen district for the same purpose, and saw their wishes denied. The group then lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court, saying the rejection violated their rights. The court did not accept their case.

The group said on Friday they would lodge the case again with the Constitutional and Administrative courts, adding the aim was to raise awareness of same-sex civil union. Naiyana Supaphueng, from FOR-SOGI and an expert on human rights, said the inequality at the heart of the decision was rooted in Thai society, as people see the transgender as freaks or queer.

The issue of same-sex equality came up in 2012 after a couple were denied their right to register their marriage in Chiang Mai. The campaign has progressed, albeit slowly. Early this year, the cabinet okayed a draft bill permitting same-sex marriage in principle, and the bill is now being vetted by the Council of State. Critics say it still falls short of granting equal rights, such as rights to government welfare or child adoption.

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