LGBTIQ+ women in Thailand still not guaranteed equal rights
#InternationalWomensMonth 💫 During this month, we celebrate ALL women! That's why we are paying homage to our wonderful LGBTIQ+ sisters. But in Thailand, some of their basic human rights are still not guaranteed! Read on to learn more about their struggles to be treated as Equal Human Beings who have the right to marry just like everybody else!
Thai Government and judiciary don't want to guarantee equal rights to LGBTIQ+ persons!
Do you remember the Constitutional Court verdict from last year? In a scathing attack on LGBTIQ+ rights, the Court ruled that Section 1448 of the country’s Civil and Commercial Code, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, does not violate the Thai Constitution. This was a severe blow to all LGBTIQ+ activists who had been advocating for an amendment of Section 1448 that would adopt gender-neutral language and allow any two individuals to get married, regardless of gender, sex, and sexual orientation.
While the Constitutional Court's verdict brought about a wave of discontent and protests in November 2021, the true nature of the decision only became known in early December when the full verdict was published. The 10-page verdict contained highly offensive, homophobic and obsolete language, comparing LGBTIQ+ individuals to animals and concluding that 'marriage equality would be against the natural order.'
The Court indicated that the purpose of the marriage is “to reproduce”, during which husbands and wives create a special bonding as a family, claiming it is a "natural order" and a foundational institution of the society. The Court then made the backward conclusion that a marriage of people with gender diversity cannot reproduce and thus they are unable to form such "delicate" familial bond.
Worse, the Court went on to discourage lawmakers from legalizing same-sex marriage by comparing same-sex couples to animals: “If science discovers more details that some animal species exhibit strange biological behaviors or characteristics, they will be grouped into separate groups for further study”. For this reason, the court claims members of the LGBTIQ+ community should not be included under the same law as heterosexual couples, but rather in separate legislation for the LGBTIQ+ people.
This ruling does nothing more than further alienates the LGBTIQ+ community towards the margins of society.
Following the Constitutional Court's decision, the Government has been vocal about pushing forward the Civil Partnership Bill that, however, does not guarantee equal rights to LGBTIQ+ persons and only creates a second-class citizen status for them. For example, under the bill, only couples of the same sex at birth can register and they cannot take each other's surnames or make medical decisions on behalf of their partners.
The last attempt to discuss marriage equality in Parliament on 9 February 2022 followed the introduction of the same-sex marriage bill by the opposition Move Forward party. In a shocking delaying technique, the bill was sent back to the Cabinet for consideration before it can move to the next reading in the Parliament. This might cause a 3-4 month delay in the bill adoption!
LGBTIQ+ community fights back!
The situation in Thailand regarding the treatment of LGBTIQ+ persons has been monitored by civil society and shared widely with the international community. Manushya Foundation jointly with Young Pride Club, BUKU Classroom, Isaan Gender Diversity Network, Deaf Thai Rainbow Club, The Volunteer House for Children and Youth, and The Coalition of Innovation for Thai Youth collaborated on a Joint UPR submission ahead of Thailand’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle, concerning the Rights of LGBTIQ+ Youth and Children in Thailand.
Additionally, we issued a shorter version of this submission as a UPR Factsheet on the Situation of LGBTIQ+ Persons, Including LGBTIQ+ Youth and Children. We used this comprehensive overview to lobby foreign diplomats prior to the UPR, including during our diplomatic briefings in September 2021 where community members, including 3 LGBTIQ+ women, provided authentic testimonies regarding their experience of being LGBTIQ+ in Thailand.
Thanks to our advocacy efforts, foreign governments provided a record number of UPR recommendations on SOGIESC rights, including 4 recommendations on legalizing equal marriage. However, only a month ago, Thailand issued its final decision regarding UPR recommendations it has decided to accept. None of the recommendations on equal marriage (recommendations 52.28-52.31) were among them! The Government provided feeble excuses:
"(W)e note recommendations 52.28–52.31 as they elaborate specific elements for the law and time frames that are too restrictive to be consistent with the current dynamic of the on-going discussions or which may not be attainable within the next cycle."
Regardless of what the Government says, there is wide support for the legalization of equal marriage through the amendment of Section 1448. The proof is a petition that has been signed by nearly 300,000 persons up until now!
LGBTIQ+ people must have the right to marry like any other human being; it’s about equal rights and family rights. Instead of pushing for the Civil Partnership Bill that does not grant them equal rights, but only pleases old dinosaurs' mindsets, Thai authorities must recognize and protect LGBTIQ+ people under the Constitution to ensure they enjoy equal rights as Equal Human Beings, nothing less!
Emilie Palamy Pradichit, Founder & Executive Director of Manushya Foundation
#WeAreManushyan - Equal Human Beings
Manushya Foundation stands by all LGBTIQ+ persons, including all LGBTIQ+ women. All of us deserve the right to get married and we will not stop advocating until this right is guaranteed to everyone!
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