Thai government to back gay rights bill

Although Thailand is usually considered gay-friendly, changes in the law are a different matter.

Following an expected ruling by the constitutional court which limits the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples, the government has agreed to speed up a draft law to protect all genders.  Deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam pointed out the court ruling did include a suggestion that parliament could change section 1448 of the civil and commercial code which discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Two stalled bills are currently within parliamentary committees.  One would allow full gay marriage for gays and the other limits the legal protection to civil unions.  Mr Wissanu’s announcement appears to support the second and more limited version.  One of the main differences is that full gay marriage is required for same-sex partners to enjoy anti-discrimination rights in employment and pension legislation.

Depending on the detail, Thailand is scheduled to be the first country in Asia to enshrine legal equality for gays. Taiwan is often quoted as the first nation to permit full gay equality, although there are restrictions.  For instance, citizens cannot marry a foreigner.  Depending on the drafting process and the enthusiasm of the government parties, a new law could see the light of day sometime next year.  If a general election was called, that could create an indefinite delay.