Thailand already was in the forefront of Asian countries with a bill in parliament for acknowledging marriage equality.
However, the prolonged fluid situation of current Thai politics which saw parliament’s dissolution, a general election that was nullified and a caretaker government that has no authority to introduce new laws, did not see that bill proceed.
Presently, Yingluck Shinawatra’s status as caretaker prime minister is at stake and her cabinet may be dissolved automatically if she is found by the Constitutional Court to have abused her authority.
Such pressing political considerations have removed the equality rights bill from the forefront and relegated it to the back-burner, LGBT rights activists say.
Thailand officially and openly markets itself as a gay-friendly tourist destination, something no other Asian country does save for far away Israel. Thailand also leads the world with the highest number of gender reassignment surgeries.
Until last year, transgender women were only able to avoid conscription by being officially listed as mentally ill, a record that more often than not put them at a disadvantage while applying for employment.
Even during an earlier Bangkok gubernatorial race, the incumbent and frontrunner from one of the main political parties who was reelected had a pro LGBT message espousing sexual diversity.
Moves to draft a same-sex marriage law received much bipartisan support before it was unfortunately sidelined.
“These are changes that would no doubt be palatable to the wider and relatively broad-minded Thai public, since the law is clearly a long way behind society,” reports bangkokpost.com.
Unfortunately, a year has passed since parliament last took a meaningful look at the situation and, given the political crisis, there is no telling how long it will be before such reforms will be passed into law, the report said.
Anjana Suvarnananda, a gender-rights activist and founder of the Anjaree Group that has been at the forefront of drafting a same-sex marriage bill said she has noticed that society is changing with parents becoming more accepting of their children identifying as gay, lesbian or transgender men and women.
Yet despite such general social goodwill, legal hurdles for equality do remain for want of a proper endorsement by parliament as current Thai law simply fails to recognize the LGBT community.
Anjana pointed out to Code 1448, which specifies that only men and women can marry and by implication outlaws unions between same-sex couples and transgender men and women.
Then there are laws relating to custody of children, inheritance, transfer of property, taxation as family life under Thai law is based on the assumption of a husband, a wife and children.
Applications for bank loans, insurance and other financial matters follow the same assumption.
Rape laws are also a source of worry for transgender women as there are no explicit statutes against the violation of a transgender woman’s body.
LGBT rights activists want to make the language used in law gender neutral and want Code 1448 to refer to marriage as between “two people” and other laws concerning family and property rights to use “married spouse” rather than husband and wife.
On the bright side, broad social acceptance of the LGBT community is clearly evident but unfortunately greater LGBT rights is stuck in a holding pattern, one only prolonged by the political crisis, says bangkokpost.com.