Retired gay foreigners targeted in Thai bill


Two foreigners will be able to get legal recognition for longstay visas in an amendment to the civil union bill agreed by a parliamentary committee. Spokesperson Thanikarn Pornongsarote said that the general idea was to promote gay tourism in Thailand, but the main effect may be to promote one year visas and extensions of stay by foreign couples. He added that the Tourist Authority of Thailand had long promoted the country as gay-friendly, but it was time to update the country’s image. Under the previous version of the civil union bill, one or both partners in a civil union had to be Thai nationals to qualify for registration. The amendment would enable a foreign couple to qualify for a “joint” marriage or retirement visa and extensions at Thai embassies and local immigration bureaux. Such flexibility would make Thailand the first country in Asia to make such a progressive leap. Taiwan is the only other country in Asia to have an equality act, but activists say it is flawed. Gay partners there cannot legally adopt children and so-called marriage is limited to Taiwanese nationals only.

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