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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs