The cabinet has endorsed a bill permitting the registration of same-sex couples, along with legal amendments to ensure they have the same rights as different-sex couples. If passed by parliament, the legislation would make Thailand only the second place in Asia to allow registration of same-sex unions.

The bill and the amendments will now be put to a vote in the House.

Kittinan Daramadhaj, President of Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, said the bill essentially allows same-sex couples to marry but stops short of calling it a “marriage”, which is legally defined as being between a man and woman.  “What’s in a name? It’s the content that matters,” he said.

The bill defines civil partners as couples born with the same sex. Registration will be available to consenting same-sex couples who are at least 17 years old. One or both of the couple must be of Thai nationality.

Minors who seek certification must have the consent of their parents, guardians or a court. After the same-sex union registration, minors will be considered mature.

Spouses of civil partners will have the same legal rights as husbands and wives, including with regard to personal and jointly-held property.

Civil partners can adopt a child or a partner can adopt an adoptive child of a spouse.

When one partner dies, the other will have the same inheritance rights as conventional married couples under the Civil and Commercial Code. Sections of the code concerning married couples will also apply to civil partners.