Thailand | For Valentine’s Day, fake marriages but real hopes for homosexual couples

(Bangkok) In a shopping center in Bangkok, homosexual couples obtained a marriage certificate without official value on Wednesday, after a symbolic ceremony that looked like a dress rehearsal before the upcoming legalization promised by the Thai government.

“I thought it was impossible. We deserve to have the same rights as others,” says Kan Kerdmeemool, from Sakhon Nakhon, 67 years old.

In front of the journalists, she proudly brandished, alongside her partner Pakotchakorn Wongsupa, 72, the paper in the colors of the rainbow flag – symbol of the LGBT community –, issued by the authorities of a central district of the capital city.

For Valentine’s Day, the authorities of the Bangkok metropolis proposed offering marriage certificates without legal value to homosexual couples, who had to present their identity papers to benefit from them.

In the district of Pathum Wan, around twenty lovers said “yes” to each other in the morning, during a ceremony held in a shopping center popular with tourists.


Permsap Sae-Ung ​​and Puangphet Hengkham

Known as a land of consensus and tolerance, the kingdom could soon become the first country in Southeast Asia to allow same-sex marriage.

Approved in December by an overwhelming majority of deputies, the text legalizing these unions must still go through several stages, but an activist interviewed by AFP hopes for final adoption by May.

“This is a historic moment. Although there are still traces of patriarchy and gaps in the law, we are trying to do our best,” insisted Naiyana Supapong, who took part in the work of developing the law.

The new legislation should give homosexual couples adoption and inheritance rights.

Protect children

Current Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and her main opponent, Pita Limjaroenrat, both support same-sex marriage.

In Thailand, although thousands of people participate each year in the pride march across the territory, the LGBT+ community claims to suffer from stubborn discrimination in the Buddhist-majority country.

The latter does not grant recognition to transgender or non-binary people who want to change their gender on their identity papers, pointed out Amnesty International.

“I think this could be the next step,” said Ariya Milintanapa, a 40-year-old transgender woman.


Lee Ronald Battiata and Ariya Milintanapa

In a relationship for twenty years with her American husband, Lee Ronald Battiata, 65, she took part in the ceremony with her two boys – one from adoption, the other from a previous union of her partner.

Obtaining legal recognition, “this will have an impact for children. We fight so that they have a good life (…) They will be able to inherit, have the right documents to travel or go to school,” explains Mr. Battiata.

“I think society is ready” for the new law, he assures.

In Asia, only Nepal and Taiwan recognize gay marriage.


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