(EDGE) The military government of Thailand has thrown its backing to a bill that would provide civil unions to same-sex families, reports The Financial Times.
Though the bill will most likely not receive final approval by the current regime — that will probably be left to the new government that will come to power after elections take place in February — the civil unions bill, if made into law, would be a significant step forward not just for Thailand, but for the region, media sources noted.
The bill has been in the works for much of 2018. An op-ed in the Bangkok Post from last summer declared that the then-nascent bill was a "good start" toward a law that would "legitimize mutual love...without discrimination and without distinction."
But reservations remain. A Reuters article from last month noted that the civil unions bill falls short of granting same-sex families full marriage rights or access to other forms of family support such as adoption. The civil unions bill also creates a disparity between heterosexual and gay couples by defining the age of consent between same-sex couples as 20 years of age, as opposed to 17 years for mixed-gender couples.
Though the current military junta will surrender power to a newly elected government, the Financial Times noted that it has positioned itself so as to retain its grip on the nation through "proxy politicians" and "a new constitution that will give it an upper hand in forming the next government."
All the same, it seems a remarkable feat that a military government would back provisions of any sort for same-sex couples. In Cuba, which has been under Communist rule for more than half a century, a proposal to enshrine marriage equality in a new constitution was shelved, purportedly after polling found strong opposition to the idea — though an op-ed in the Havana Times proposed the notion that the story about marriage equality being constitutionally guaranteed and the supposed polling results were both the work of a propaganda campaign, with no genuine interest in extending marriage equality to gay and lesbian families ever having been entertained by the government.
Closer to home, the Trump administration has acted in a number of ways to erase the LGBTQ community from visibility and even from legal existence, in actions as diverse as dropping sexual minorities from the 2020 census and a proposal to define "gender" in such as way that trans Americans would be excluded from any legal protections that might apply to them under Title IX.
Earlier this year, a GOP state lawmaker, Washington state Rep. Matt Shea, distributed a "Christian manifesto"that detailed a plan for theocrats to seize governmental power and murder abortion advocates and anyone defending marriage rights for gay and lesbian families.
Despite an FBI investigation into the document and the manifesto's call to "kill all males" that refuse to surrender to a theoretical Christian despotic regime, Shea was re-elected in the 2018 midterms.