Thailand Takes a Step Towards Marriage Equality: A Closer Look at the Amendment of the Civil and Commercial Code

Love has long been a powerful force that transcends boundaries and unites people from diverse backgrounds. In recent years, the LGBTQ+ community has grown significantly, with more individuals feeling empowered to come out and live their truth. Many countries around the world have recognized the importance of supporting the LGBTQ+ community and have amended their laws to allow for same-sex marriage. However, Thailand, despite being known as an LGBTQ+ friendly country, has yet to pass such legislation.

Over the years, the Thai parliament has engaged in several debates regarding marriage equality and civil unions. Unfortunately, all proposed bills have failed to be enacted, leaving the LGBTQ+ community without the legal recognition they deserve. However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. In a recent development, the Thai cabinet has approved the principle of amending the civil and commercial code bill, proposing marriage equality.

The essence of this amendment lies in the redefinition of the term “couple” to include people of any gender. This groundbreaking change aims to grant homosexual couples the same fundamental rights as their heterosexual counterparts. These rights include the ability to claim compensation in the event of a breach of betrothal or infidelity, the right to dissolve a marriage, and equal minimum age requirements for both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

people with gay pride body paint holding hands

While this amendment marks a significant step towards marriage equality in Thailand, it is important to recognize that it is merely the beginning. Homosexual couples have long been living together as families, yet they continue to face a lack of fundamental rights. These rights encompass crucial aspects such as the ability to make decisions regarding medical care, joint management and control of property, and inheritance rights.

Although the principle of amending the civil and commercial code bill has only been approved by the cabinet, it is a promising start. The next step will be to propose this amendment to the House of Representatives, where further discussions and deliberations will take place. If the bill successfully navigates this process, it will pave the way for a more inclusive and egalitarian society in Thailand.

The potential impact of this amendment cannot be understated. It signifies a fresh start for real equality, ensuring that love knows no boundaries and that all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, have the opportunity to experience the joys and responsibilities of marriage. As Thailand takes this important step towards marriage equality, it sets an example for other nations to follow, fostering a world where love truly knows no bounds.

Author: Panisa Suwanmatajarn, Managing Partner.

Other Articles

Intercountry Adoption for Children

Intercountry adoption is when an individual or a couple becomes a legal parent of children by adopting and raising them in another country. Those children will have better opportunities to live in a healthy environment and good education which has an excellent effect on children themselves and society.

Thailand ratified the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption B.E. 2536 (1993) (“Hague”) to ensure that the intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interest and the adoption process is legal. For this purpose, the Thai government established the Child Adoption Centre of the Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW), a central authority, who will make a final decision on allowing for adoption.

white and multicolored love is love banner

For adoption of child in Thailand, the overseas adoptive parents must submit an application to the central authority or agency of their own country. Then, the central authority or agency will contact and coordinate with the competent authorities in Thailand (i.e.  Sahathai Foundation, Friends For All Children Foundation, Pattaya Orphanage and Thai Red Cross Children Home). These Thai authorities will consider the qualifications of overseas adopters under the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. For example, the adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old and must be at least 15 years older than the adopted child. Moreover, one of the important qualifications of adopters is that they must be a married couple or a single female who is qualified to adopt the child under the law of their own country.

The Thai competent authority will consider the qualifications of overseas adopter under many factors such as age difference, health and mind. Then, the Thai authority will send the documents and its opinion to the DSDW for final approval. The consideration process and decision of adopting Thai child is required to be taken place in Thailand as mentioned above.

Please note that currently Thailand is still not accepting the legal status of homosexual marriage and the intercountry adopter must have married status (between man and woman), so it is still impossible for LGBTQ couples to adopt the Thai child. However, there is a draft civil partnership bill allowing a legal homosexual status providing the right for adoption as a married couple. If the draft civil partnership bill is approved and become enforced and related laws have been revised to be in line with, the LGBTQ couple is able to apply for adopting the child in Thailand under the conditions as specified in such relevant Thai laws and approval of DSDW.

Civil Partnership Bill and Amendment to Civil and Commercial Code

On 7 June 2022, at Santi Maitree Building Government House, the Cabinet has approved a draft “Act on Civil Partnership Bill (“Act”) and amendment to Civil and Commercial Code (“CCC”)” which were considered by the Council of State.

The purpose of this draft Act is to enact a specific law to support the rights and duties of LGBT+ people and for gender equality and to amend the CCC which is a general law to be in line with the draft Act.

two men about to kiss

1. This draft Act consists of 4 Chapters and 46 Sections as follows:

 1.1 Prologue (Sections 1–5) establishes the timeline for law enforcement and various important definitions, especially the term “partners”.

1.2 Chapter 1 registration of a life partners (Sections 6 – 14) prescribing rules and procedures for registration of a life partner.

people with gay pride body paint holding hands

1.3 Chapter 2 partners (Sections 15 – 38) dividing into 5 parts as follows:

(1) Part 1 general provisions (Sections 15 – 21) stipulates those provisions of the CCC on the family shall be applied to the partners if there is no specific provision in this Chapter.

(2) Part 2 relationship between partners (Sections 22 – 23)

(3) Part 3 properties between partners (Sections 24 – 27)

(4) Part 4 void of registration of being partners (Sections 28-31)

(5) Part 5 termination of partnership (Sections 32 – 38)

  1. Chapter 3 adopted children (Sections 39 – 44)

1.5 Chapter 4 inheritance (Sections 45 – 46)

2. A amendment to CCC consists of 5 Sections with the purpose of amending Sections 1452 (duplication of Marriage Registration), 1516 (1) (grounds for divorce) and 1528 (termination of right to receive pension) in the order to support the life partner’s matter as well.