As of December 2020, there are only 29 countries worldwide with equal marriage law, which allows couples of all genders to legally register their marriage. Some of them also protect the spouses of other nationalities, such as Taiwan, which is the first nation in Asia to legalize this law.
Some people may say LGBTQ+ couples in Thailand can register their marriages in said free countries if they want to get married. But that’s not entirely the solution. The thing is, equal marriage law is not about getting married, but also about rights and protection as one’s spouse. So if a couple register their marriage in other countries and come back to Thailand, the law here won’t recognize their marriage
Civil Partnership Bill vs Equal Marriage Law
The Civil Partnership Bill (known in Thai as พ.ร.บ. คู่ชีวิต) has been discussed to provide LGBTQ+ citizens with legal recognition of their marriage since 2013. And it still needs a lot of work. The problem with this bill is the limited protections and unequal rights that come with it. So the bill itself has been in the discussion and not yet legalized today.
At this point, many suggest that the real focus making the current marriage law to be equal, instead of creating another bill. So that couples of all genders can receive the exact same rights and protections.
The Reasons Thailand Needs Equal Marriage Law
The mass still considers equal marriage law insignificant, because couples can just move in, live together, or organize their weddings without registering their marriages. But the real importance of this law lies in the legal rights that married couples receive after the government recognizes them as spouses. And this recognition can only come from legal marriage registration.
In this blog post, I have interviewed people from the LGBTQ+ community. The original interviews were in Thai and this post in the translation. You may check out the original post here. Or continue reading how equal marriage law and the absence of it affect the LGBTQ+ community in Thailand.
The government hasn’t treated us as equal.
“The current version of the Civil Partnership bill is so far away from what I can consider equal. It should be more inclusive. To have this law for everyone, the legal rights must be there for all genders. People who take care of the legalization should be those who truly understand us and are members of LGBTQ+ community themselves. But until this point, the government hasn’t treated us as equal.
If one day I get married, I would love to have children. I have great influences from my work, where I see how the children and the youth develop. It’s my life goal to raise someone in this world. I’d be so excited to send them off to school or to have many great conversations with them. But gender equality nowadays is a structural issue. I want to see the improvement. But if those in the parliament still don’t understand what they need to fix, it’s difficult for our society to become equal.”
-Strategist and Learning Designer, who wish to see gender equality and education improve
The law is the way we live.
“I feel that the law should support how we live smoothly and peacefully. Living together needs legal rights and recognition. So I couldn’t understand at all why it disregards our love. Hetero couples receive allowances, shared insurance, and coverage for sickness as spouses. But we couldn’t do anything like that.
Imagine we build something together, but when my partner is in need, I cannot help them. That’s the real tragedy. I want my partner to live comfortably, just the way we have lived, no matter if we are still together or one of us is gone. We should be able to work on our financial together, no matter what our gender identities are. It’s not just buying or investing in something. It’s taking care of each other.”
“Many LGBTQ+ couples who are both transgendered people (e.g. one person is a transgendered woman and another person is a transgendered man) can register their marriage, although the law doesn’t recognize their true identities. Other couples may live together, get sick, and cannot receive the same healthcare benefits as spouses. I believe the equal marriage should protect them. We talk about real people living their lives and getting their foundational rights, including having children.
The right to making medical decision as a spouse is also very important, especially for me, as a doctor. I haven’t yet met LGBTQ+ couples at work in such situations, but patients who are hetero couples or families. Especially in emergency, everyone should have the same rights. ”
This law is the proof that everyone is equal.
“Looking at the society, there are still ongoing issues regarding the mindset or the attitude of the people towards LGBTQ+ community. Not all 100% accepts us. Many have experienced with different types of discriminations or domestic violence. In other way, there are also different problems of the LGBTQ+ people in different social classes. People with more money receive better treatment. There’s a saying that Thailand accepts LGBTQ+ people, but it contradicts with the fact that we still don’t have equal marriage law. Only this law will really prove equal, respectful acceptances.
From my experience, one of my ex-partner cannot take care of their children because of the discrimination. When the law didn’t recognize her as whom she was, the society disregarded her as well. And she couldn’t take care of her child for quite sometimes. At that moment, I couldn’t do anything to help her at all. There were no legal rights for us as a spouse. If we have the equal marriage law, it can prove our marriage. The society would have acknowledged our relationship as what it was, not just two people living together. Every legal protection is important because we don’t know what can happen in the future.”
-Daranee Thongsiri, Women and LGBTQ+ Rights Activist
Founder of Feminista Thailand
We are also humans and we love like you do.
“For the LGBTQ+ people of the younger generation, I want them to know that they have their spaces in the society. In the old days, some LGBTQ+ people had to marry someone of the opposite sexes. The marriage isn’t about having a fancy wedding. It’s about having their voices and their rights in the society, pay taxes, get a shared loan, and many more. I want the youth to know they have choices and possibilities to settle down as LGBTQ+ couples. But not unequally, as in the Civil Partnership bill unfairly allows. Hetero people sometimes say things like “Why can’t you just be happy”? Well, we are unhappy because what we receive is not the equality we should have.
Adopting children as LGBTQ+ parents is still a huge challenge. The society accepts that LGBTQ+ couples, we truly love each other. But whenever someone wants to discuss adoptions, they give out so many red flags. They question our abilities. I don’t know how long it will take until we can adopt. There are many children, who grew up with single dad, single mom, or other family members like their aunts, and they have become good citizens as well.”
“We have been together for a very long time and we have discussed several times about getting married. We have a lot of information in hands. And have seen so many wedding businesses that are supportive. But we stuck with the law that doesn’t allow us to register our marriage. When I think about why we should have this law, I also want to know “Why not?” We are humans too and we love like you do. Like everyone, we do our parts as citizens of our country. But we didn’t have the same rights. We have been together for 11 years now. Why our love means less than the love of others
-LGBTQ+ Couple who wish to spend their lives together under equal legal rights and protection
It’s about accepting the diversity in the society.
“Equal marriage law is important because the absence of it has caused countless of heartbreaks. LGBTQ+ people cannot verify medical treatment for their partners or file for tax reduction. We pay taxes without receiving the same benefits. Some of us pay the same or event greater amount of taxes every year. But the protection and the rights we have are a lot less.
I’ve worked and talked to many LGBTQ+ couples. And every one of them has their own stories. One of the rainbow families has a daughter that they cannot adopt. There are several discriminations we have faced. On the news, one transgendered woman has a male partner who fell terribly sick. The woman herself is a teacher and has access to medical care as she works for the government. But in her case, she couldn’t ask for treatment to help her partner.
One day, shall the government legalize the Civil Partnership bill, it can help many couples. But it’s a trick to create another bill that isn’t equal. Many couples will still have to face with many challenges. In the end, we will be back in the start as we demand equality, but we didn’t receive it.
As a citizen, not legalizing equal marriage means denying the equality of the people. The government treats us as their second-class citizens. I won’t believe that they really accept us, unless this bill becomes the actual equal marriage law. What we want is equal rights, not a special privilege. It’s about accepting the diversity in the society.”
-Watsamon Tri-yasakda, a photographer who tells stories LGBTQ+ community around the world through her website
Not having an equal marriage law here is really affecting our lives.
(Translation, Phen) “Actually, marriage equality has been an on-going topic for a very long time. Then the public started talking about it again in the past few years. When no one talked about it, the government became quiet. We had to demonstrate and to check in on them every now and then. When the government demands something from Thai people, we deliver right away. But when we requested that they treat us equally, we waited and waited. Now we still haven’t had a wedding in Thailand. We hope to have the equal marriage law first, so that we have both the celebration and legal protection.”
(Original, Eva) “We got married in Germany but decided to live in Thailand. If we’d live in Germany, that’d be no problem. But not having an equal marriage law here is really affecting our lives. For example, if we have an emergency, we won’t be able to do anything. Then there are people who live together 20-30 years together, and when this happen, some families forbid LGBTQ+ partners from visiting. That’s really bad.
“It’s also important for the young LGBTQ+ community. Because they should be able to see what they can be, what they can have. For us, we were lucky that we never had to explain ourselves. But when you’re like 13 or 15 and you cannot show your identity, it can really mess with you so badly. Some of them still scare to show themselves. I want to them to know that they don’t have to be scared. They shouldn’t be scared. It’s a tough road. It takes time. But we want to be a part of the movement. If we can change this even for a little bit, it can be a big deal.”
– Phen and Eva, the lesbian couple who are parts of LGBTQ Travel Thailand
Support Gender Equality
Wonders & Weddings has a clear community guideline that is respectful and inclusive. I support gender equality in the operations and the wedding services for couples of all genders. My vision here is to “create the society that embraces gender equality, creativity, and compassion.”
Sharing Your Voice on Equal Marriage Law
If you are a member of LGBTQ+ community and would like to share your voice, experience, or opinions on why Thailand needs equal marriage law, I’ll be very happy to hear from you and forward your thoughts on this article and other channels.