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Thailand is set to be the first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex unions after the government approved a bill that will now head for parliament approval to become law.
“This is an important step for Thailand in creating equality for everyone and guaranteeing rights for same-sex couples to start a family,” Rachada Dhnadirek, spokeswoman for the government, said after the Cabinet backed the move on Wednesday.
The bill, which doesn’t go as far as endorsing marriage, will let same-sex unions adopt children, jointly manage assets and liabilities, and inherit from their partners. The bill in its current form still doesn’t grant the couples access to each other’s government pension, but that could be allowed after some amendment at later stage, according to Justice Ministry’s Kerdchoke Kasamwongjit.
Though Thailand has a friendly image toward the gay, lesbian and transgender community, the country’s laws are mixed in accommodating LGBT rights. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal, yet some in the LGBT community say they have trouble finding jobs outside the tourism, media and entertainment industries. Currently, same-sex couples don’t have legal rights.
“Once it reaches the parliament, we can be 100% certain that the bill will eventually become law,” said Kerdchoke, deputy director general of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, who has been working on the bill since its inception in 2012.
If passed, Thailand would become the second country in Asia to allow such unions after Taiwan legalized them in 2019.
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