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Same-sex union bill no cause for celebration

in THAILAND, 29/04/2013

The recent move by the Parliamentary Commission on Law, Justice and Human Rights to legalise same-sex relationships came as a pleasant surprise to the local community of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and intersex persons (LGBTIs). Three leading LGBTI activists were duly invited to sit on the working group established by the commission to prepare a draft.

However, the celebratory mood quickly evaporated when the voices of these representatives were heard but went largely unheeded. Indeed, the resulting bill provides cause for concerns. The exclusion of rights in regards to children - even biological ones from a previous marriage - deprives LGBTIs of opportunities to found a family. Worse, a "homosexuality test" was repeatedly mentioned as precondition for relationship registration under this law.

When LGBTI activists expressed their reservations at last week's public hearing, the bill's promoters told them they should feel lucky for not having been born Afghan or Iranian LGBTIs, to be thankful for the "favour" and stop being greedy. These shocking words reveal the prevalent cultural attitude regarding LGBTIs not as equals, but as pitiable inferiors - like beggars obliged to feel grateful for every mercy tossed into their bowls.

The bill's pushers should consult the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which recognises inherent human dignity and equal, inalienable rights in all human beings. In other words, human rights are not a special favour or charity project. What lawmakers and governments must do is affirm these rights and removing the obstacles to their realisation.

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