Thailand has long been perceived as a country with a tolerant attitude towards gender diversity. The kingdom is sometimes dubbed the "gay capital" of Southeast Asia, but that refers to the social aspect of the issue rather than the legal side: when it comes to anti-discrimination legislation, gay rights in Thailand are barely protected or recognised.
Amid the worldwide movement _ from the US to France to Taiwan (see side story) _ calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriages, the Thai government last year formed a committee which has since drafted a civil-partnership law for same-sex couples.
Last month, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department and the parliamentary committee on Legal Affairs, Justice and Human Rights held the first public hearing of the bill in Bangkok. The committee held five rounds of public hearings in Chiang Mai, Songkhla and Khon Kaen and the last one is due in the capital on April 19. According to the Sexual Diversity Network (SDN), around 150 to 250 people showed up to voice ideas and offer feedback during each hearing.
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