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The cabinet is planning to propose to parliament amendments to the Civil and Commercial Code to allow for the registration of marriage regardless of gender.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said after yesterday’s cabinet meeting (21 November) that the cabinet has approved a marriage equality bill and will be proposing it to parliament when the session reopens on 12 December.

The Thai government website published a summary of the cabinet meeting. It said that the bill, drafted by the Ministry of Justice, proposes to amend the sections on marriage in the Civil and Commercial Code to replace gendered terms like “man” and “woman” with “person” and “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” to allow for marriage registration regardless of gender.

The amendments would allow all couples to adopt children, inherit each other’s property, and manage property in cases where consent from a spouse is required. The government also said that other agencies will have to amend related laws and regulations to allow LGBTQ couples to access welfare benefits now only given to “husband or wife.”

Two other bills proposing similar amendments to the marriage law are currently in the process of being proposed to parliament. One was re-submitted to parliament in August by the Move Forward party. It was proposed by Move Forward MPs during the last parliamentary session, but faced repeated delays and was not returned for second and third readings before parliament was dissolved. As a cabinet was still not in place, the party decided to re-submit the bill to parliament to prevent it from being automatically dismissed.

The bill also proposes to amend the Civil and Commercial Code to use “spouse” instead of “husband” and “wife” and “person” instead of “man” and “woman.” In addition, it proposes to raise the age at which a person can legally marry without parental consent or court permission from 17 to 18 years old. However, activists have complained that it retains some gendered language, using “father” and “mother” alongside the gender-neutral term "parent". 

The bill was earlier put up for public consultation. Move Forward MP Parit Wacharasindhu said that it has now been placed on parliament’s agenda and may be considered together with the government’s proposal since the bills are similar. He hopes that the government and opposition will cooperate so that the amendments can be passed as soon as possible.

A third bill is being proposed by a network of gender equality activists who are in the process of collecting signatures. It also calls for the Civil and Commercial Code to be amended so that gendered terms such as man, woman, husband, wife, father, or mother will no longer be used in sections concerning marriage and family.  Instead, such terms will be replaced by the gender-neutral terms “person,” “spouse,” and “parent.” It will also raise the age at which a person can get married from 17 to 18 years to be in line with international child protection principles.

Under the 2021 Initiative Process Act, a bill proposed by citizens requires at least 10,000 signatures from eligible voters to be introduced to the House of Representatives. 

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