Group wants law to be LGBT-friendly

Group wants law to be LGBT-friendly

Gender equality advocates petition the Office of the Ombudsman to pass on a case to the Constitutional Court so a law stipulating the minimum age of a legally married couple comprising a man and a woman can be changed. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Gender equality advocates petition the Office of the Ombudsman to pass on a case to the Constitutional Court so a law stipulating the minimum age of a legally married couple comprising a man and a woman can be changed. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice, a group advocating for gender equality, is looking to convince the Constitutional Court to give LGBT couples more rights in the kingdom, by adjusting terms mentioned in the Civil and Criminal Code.

Pongsathorn Chanluen, vice-chairman of the foundation, on Wednesday requested the Office of Ombudsman to petition the Constitutional Court in the hope of amending Section 1448 of the Civil and Criminal Code, which stipulates that marriage can take place only when "a man and woman" are over the age of 17, adding, however, the court may in some cases allow couples to marry before reaching that age.

Mr Pongsathorn said that because of the term "a man and woman", same-sex couples cannot register their marriage, which prevents them from gaining access to government welfare for married couples.

He said a same-sex couple once submitted a request to register their marriage, but they were denied by officials who cited the "a man and a woman" term mentioned in the Civil and Criminal Code.

Mr Pongsathorn said the rejection contradicted Section 30 of the constitution, which was enacted in 2017, and which emphasises equality without discrimination.

Many same-sex couples have spent their lives together and intend to get their marriages registered, but no legislation has permitted them to do so, he said.

Mr Pongsathorn said Section 1448's "man and woman" term must be altered, which could be a better option to give same-sex couples more rights than the current Civil Partnership Act (CPA) the Justice Ministry is working on.

"As I participated in the drafting of the CPA, I found that it might turn them into second-class citizens," he said. "Certain rights defined for same-sex couples, notably about government welfare, are different from that of straight couples."

He said under the current CPA draft when a man works for the government and his husband works in a private company, the latter would not qualify for marriage benefits.

If there's an accident, same-sex couples would not even be allowed to sign off on medical treatments unlike straight couples, he said.


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