Thailand’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft bill that aims to legalise same-sex couples and give them more rights.
The bill avoids the term “marriage” but allows same-sex partners to register legally and give them rights, that include jointly owning property, adopting children, and pass on inheritances.
It needs parliament’s approval to become law, but social activists say the bigger challenge was the clearance by the Thai cabinet, which is largely made up of retired military generals and orthodox political leaders.
If the parliament nods the civil partnership bill, Thailand will join Taiwan as the only regions in Asia that provide legal equality to same-sex partners.
Taiwan approved same-sex marriage bill last year.
The civil partnership bill calls civil partners as couples, who are born with same-sex. To register, couples must be at least 17 years old and one out of the pair must be a Thai citizen. The pair, who is under 17 years of age, will be required permission from their legal guardian or parents. It also covers rules for separation.
However, the proposed amendments in the bill don’t grant same-sex couples similar rights and privileges that a heterosexual married couple enjoys.
Critics also say that the bill doesn’t equate civil partnerships to marriage and doesn’t provide tax exemptions, medical and social security benefits.
Thailand is seen as a country that has conservative roots but is relatively very open to LGBTQ people as compared to its Southeast Asian neighbours.