News / Asia

Thai Same-Sex Marriage Bill Not Without Controversy

Thai Same-Sex Marriage Bill Not Without Controversyi
X
May 22, 2013 3:49 PM
As the debate on same-sex marriage continues in Western nations, including the United States, Thailand could become the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage. Thailand is known for its liberal acceptance of sexuality, but the draft same-sex marriage law is not without controversy. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Bangkok.

Thai Same-Sex Marriage Bill Not Without Controversy

Daniel Schearf
As the debate on same-sex marriage continues in Western nations, including the United States, Thailand could become the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage.  Thailand is known for its liberal acceptance of sexuality, but the draft same-sex marriage law is not without controversy.   
 
This is a traditional Thai wedding, except there is no groom.  There are two brides.
 
This ceremony is only symbolic because Thailand, like all of Asia, does not recognize same sex marriage.
 
But a draft law later this year could change that and make Thailand the first Asian nation to legalize gay marriage.
 
Nonetheless, Arisa Thanommek and her partner Pacharee Hungsabut say they were not interested in waiting. "We...we [will] not wait. Because we [are] ready.  Our family is ready," she said. 
 
Thailand has never outlawed homosexuality and many people say the Buddhist culture promotes more acceptance of sexual differences.
 
But, a survey conducted last year indicates 58 percent of the Thai public still holds traditional beliefs that same-sex marriage is not natural and sets a bad example for children.
 
Wirat Kalayasiri is a member of the Thai parliament and deputy director of the committee drafting the same-sex law.  
 
He says the average age of lawmakers, older than 45, has made the promotion of the law more difficult.
 
"There are groups that do not agree, elderly people who do not understand the feelings of those people.  A second group are those with strict religious beliefs such as Roman Catholic or Islam which are quite strict on this issue," he said. 
 
  • Parents watch same-sex brides Arisa Thanommek and Pacharee Hungsabut exchange rings at their ceremony in Bangkok, May 19, 2013. (Daniel Schearf/VOA)
  • Brides get anointed at the traditional wedding ceremony. (Daniel Schearf/VOA)
  • Buddhist monks bless the brides. (Daniel Schearf/VOA)
  • Overlooking the gift plate of cash at the traditional Thai ceremony. (Daniel Schearf/VOA)
  • Family and guests line up to pour water on brides' hands at the ceremony in Bangkok. (Daniel Schearf/VOA)
  • Same-sex brides Arisa Thanommek and Pacharee Hungsabut. (Daniel Schearf/VOA)

The debate began last year when Nathee Theerarojanapong and his boyfriend of more than two decades tried to marry, but were rejected.
 
He and other activists took the case to lawmakers and created a momentum they are confident could soon make history, and not only in Asia.
 
"We will lead America.  For this issue, for sure.  Your country will take quite a while.  But, for us, I think…next year or maybe a few years, we will get it.  I believe.  One hundred percent sure," he sid. 
 
But critics say the same-sex marriage law, as drafted, is still more separate than equal.
 
Although it allows most of the same legal benefits and decision-making rights as heterosexual couples, the age of consent is raised from 17 to 20 years old.
 
Activists also say a gender-neutral law would be more appropriate to prevent transgender people being forced into a male or female category that not everyone would agree with.  

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid