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A Push for Same-Sex Marriage Bill in Thailand Slug: Thai same sex marriage bill Reporter: Kannikar Petchkaew

Date: 2/04/2013 INTRO Thailand is regarded as one of the most tolerant countries in Asia in regards to homosexuality. Bangkoks main business district is dotted with gay massage parlours and same-sex sexual activities are legal. Thailand also has lots of transgender celebrities and politicians. But same-sex marriage is banned. Now Thailand is drafting its first legal recognition for same-sex couples. As Kannikar Petchkaew reports, if its passed, it will be the first in Asia. TEXT SFX 2 VOICE OF NATEE CAMPAIGNING ON THE STREET.HIS VOICE THROUGH MEGAPHONE .THE PEOPLE CHATTING.CHAOS ON STREET. After wandering for hours in the sun, 50-year-old Natee Theerarojanapong is resting on the foothpath. Natee is the president of Thailands Political Gay Group. For the past two months hes been collecting signatures searching for people that support the same-sex marriage bill. And he has collected more than 1,000 signatures from the streets. Natee Clip1 (male/thai): We just want the normal life as other men and women. We want to have the right to love and marry like other people do. We are also human being. We want to live a good life, and in equality. Last year, Natee and his partner were denied the right to marry. Natee Clip 2 (male/thai): We asked to register our union. We want to register our marriage and make our union legal. But they denied my proposal. I took the case to the National Human Rights Commission. Natee then filed a petition to the Commision, arguing that his case is one of discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was the first petition for marriage registration between same-sex couples.

And this has pushed the House of Representatives to draft a bill on same-sex marriage. It was finished in January and is now waiting for the hearing session. Wirath Kalayasiri from the opposition Democratic Party is preparing to present the bill to the House. Wirath clip1 (male/thai): Ask me if I want to do this? I do. Ask if I have any concerns? I do. Its very risky for me to support the bill. There is a lot of teasing from my colleagues saying that Wirath, are you becoming homosexual? I know they were only joking, but it is still insulting. If the bill is passed, it will be the first of its kind in Thailand, giving same-sex couples the same marriage rights as other couples. But getting the bill passed will be tough given Thailands traditionally conservative society. Last year, a national government survey showed that nearly 60 percent of Thais believe that same-sex marriage is unnatural and sets a bad example for children. Anchana Suvarnnanond is the founder of Anjaree group, Thais first lesbian group. Anchana clip 1 (female/English): I think Thai society recognise that there are lesbian, gay and transgender people, but these people are seen as defected. But theyre OK, theyre also human. We think that in terms of equality, all human being should be treated equally. Lawyer Natcha Singha says Thai current law doesnt recognise same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. She believes its time to update the countrys marriage law. Natcha clip 1 (female/English): Thai law doesnt specifically state that same-sex marriage is illegal. In fact, homosexuality itself has never been illegal in Thailand. They simply concludes that marriage can only be approved when both the man and woman consent. So why not amend the law? Its been been in place since 1935. The Sexual Diversity Network is drafting its version of the same-sex marriage bill, in case the House-sponsored version is denied cabinet approval. SFX 2 AGAIN Natee ends his campaign today with a song he will continue pushing for equality. Natee clip 3 (male/thai): I will fight whatever happens... I will always fight... (continue with singing)... For Asia Calling, this is Kannikar Petchkaew from Thailand.