Thailand's junta backs Bill approving same-sex unions

The Thai LGBT community participates in Gay Freedom Day Parade in Bangkok, Thailand on Nov 29, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK - Thailand's outgoing military government has approved a Bill legalising same-sex civil unions as well as another on medical marijuana, putting the country ahead of most of its neighbours in legal reforms on both fronts before a February election, the Financial Times said on Wednesday (Dec 26).

The Bill on same-sex civil partnerships is likely to require final approval by a new parliament that takes power after the election on Feb 24. It was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday alongside a Bill legalising medical marijuana.

If the Bill enters law, it will make the politically conservative but socially relaxed country the first in Asia to approve civil unions, reported the Financial Times.

Taiwanese lawmakers are also considering allowing partnerships for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, but voters recently rejected gay marriage in a referendum.

Under Thailand's civil partnership Bill, couples must be at least 20 years old and one of them must be Thai to register as a couple.

Human rights groups have criticised the Bill for falling short of full marriage equality, and it makes no provision for LGBT people to adopt, noted the Financial Times.

Thailand's civil code allows LGBT people to adopt children individually, but not as couples, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Bill on medical marijuana was passed overwhelmingly by Thailand's National Assembly.

The law allows the possession of marijuana for research, agricultural, commercial, scientific and industrial purposes, but the kingdom's strict bans on recreational use or trafficking of marijuana remains in place.

The Bill will enter law once it is approved by Thailand's monarchy and published in the Royal Gazette. South Korea became the first country in Asia to approve medical marijuana last month.

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