Civil unions for gay couples
Equality of rights endorsed by cabinet
The cabinet yesterday endorsed a bill permitting civil partnership registration of same-sex couples, and legal amendments to ensure they have the same rights as different-sex couples.
The bill and the amendment will now be put to a vote in the House of Representatives.
Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said the Civil Partnership Bill and the amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code would ensure fairness for people of all sexual orientations.
The bill defines civil partners as couples born with the same gender. Civil unions will be available to consenting same-sex couples who are at least 17 years old as long as at least one is a Thai national.
Minors who seek such unions must have the consent of their parents, guardians or a court.
After being awarded same-sex registration, minors will be considered of mature age.
Civil partners will have the same legal rights as married people in regards to personal and jointly-held property, as well as the right to adopt children.
When one partner dies, the other will have the same inheritance rights as conventional married couples under the Civil and Commercial Code, which also prohibits a man or a woman from getting married if he or she already has a civil partner.
A man or a woman can face a divorce lawsuit if he or she treats someone else as a civil partner.
Under the amendment, the right to receive living allowances in the case of divorce is terminated if the party receiving them remarries or registers a civil partnership.
"The Civil Partnership Bill is a milestone for society in promoting equality among people of all genders. This strengthens the families of people with sexual diversity and is appropriate for the present social circumstances," Ms Rachada said.
The Justice Ministry, which proposed the bill and the legal amendment, would monitor the effectiveness of the changes as required by Section 77 of the constitution, and plan other legal amendments to ensure compliance with those already enacted, she said.
Kerdchoke Kasamwongjit, deputy director-general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, said the next step would be to forward the bill to the House of Representatives and the Senate for endorsement.
It will be then published in the Royal Gazette with a likely wait of 120 days before the bill takes effect, he said.
Move Forward MP Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat said the new law had not totally awarded the same rights to same-sex couples.
He and his party have therefore proposed a further amendment to the law to remove restrictions related to sex.