Thailand to recognize 'third gender' in new constitution: panel

Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:40am EST
 
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By Amy Sawitta Lefevre

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's constitution will include the term "third gender" for the first time, a member of a panel drafting a new charter said on Thursday, in a move to empower transgender and gay communities and ensure them fairer legal treatment.

Thailand has a large gay community, but remains largely conservative, although homosexual, transgender and transsexual people play key roles in its entertainment industry.

Thai law does not recognize same-sex unions, which keeps gay couples from taking joint bank loans and medical insurance, besides barring changes to gender categories on national identity papers.

The Constitution Drafting Committee, a group hand-picked by the military to prepare a new constitution after the previous one was scrapped following a May coup, began work this week.

Panel spokesman Kamnoon Sittisamarn said the new measure would ensure all sexual identities were protected under the constitution and treated equally by the law.

"We are putting the words 'third gender' in the constitution because Thai society has advanced," he told Reuters.

"There are not only men and women, we need to protect all sexes. We consider all sexes to be equal."

The panel will send details of the measure to the National Reform Council by April. It will need to be formally approved by the ruling junta, also known as the National Council for Peace and Order.   Continued...