Integrity Legal

Archive for January, 2014

27th January 2014

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that Vietnam has legalized same sex wedding ceremonies performed in that Southeast Asian nation. Prior to this announcement it was illegal for same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony performed in Vietnam and also illegal for same sex couples to cohabit without fear of government reprisal. It should be noted that these recent measures only allow same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony, notwithstanding the fact that such ceremonies will have no legal recognition in Vietnam (or elsewhere). However, many LGBT rights activists believe that this is a significant step towards eventual marriage equality in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Thailand the struggle still continues to see the full marriage equality. Unlike Vietnam, Thailand has allowed same sex marriage ceremonies within their jurisdiction for some time. It should also be noted that Thailand is one of the most tolerant nations in Southeast Asia when it comes to LGBT issues. However, the law in Thailand still stipulates that a legally recognized marriage is a union between one man and one woman. There are many activists in the Kingdom hoping to change these rules in order to allow same sex couples the right to get married. With recent political turmoil in the Kingdom and uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections it remains to be seen whether any change to the current law will speedily occur, but some believe that the tolerant attitude in Thailand will lead to changes in the law especially in light of the fact that recent proposals in the Thai parliament would, if adopted, allow same sex couples to legalize their marriages.

The issue of same sex marriage legalization is of concern to many same-sex bi-national couples since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision granting federal recognition of same sex unions. One result of this decision was that same sex couples and spouses are now eligible to receive United States visa benefits in the same manner as different sex couples. Therefore, visas such as the CR-1 visa and IR-1 visa are now available to same sex couples who are already married. Although this may not be a highly sought after category in Southeast Asia at this time as no jurisdiction in the region currently recognizes same sex marriage, it could be of substantial importance in coming years as laws may be amended to equalize marriage laws for the LGBT community. Meanwhile, officials at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as well as the Department of State have noted that same sex couples, where one of the partners is American, who maintain a bona fide intention to marry in the USA may be eligible for the K-1 visa (more commonly referred to as a fiance visa). This type of visa allows the foreign fiance of an American citizen to travel to the United States for 90 days for the express purpose of getting married and filing for adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Residence.

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12th January 2014

During the early morning hours on Monday January 13th in Bangkok protestors calling for the resignation of the current Thai government commenced their “Operation: Bangkok Shutdown”. It appears from initial reports that 7 key intersections in Bangkok have been blocked including areas near government facilities. Protest leaders have noted their intention to continue the shutdown until the end of January. Should their demands be met, the shutdown may end sooner. The administration of this blog will not comment upon the politics behind these recent developments (leaving that task to news sites and political commentators). However, it is important to note that this situation will likely cause delays in government services, especially those sought in the Bangkok Metropolitan area.

The Thai government has taken measures to deal with the inconvenience this situation may cause. Most notable to foreign nationals in Bangkok was the recent announcement that provisional immigration offices have been established to deal with visa matters for foreign nationals unable to travel to the usual immigration offices located in facilities which are likely to be blocked by the protestors. The Office of the Royal Thai Immigration Police made the following announcement:

ADDITIONAL OFFICES DURING THE DEMONSTRATION SITUATION

Due to the demonstration, please be known that Immigration Services for all foreigners are also provided at ::

1. Immigration Service Center for 3 national Legalized Labors, Major Hollywood Suksawat, 1st Floor,
Suksawat Road, Ratburana, Bangkok.
2. Immigration Service Center for 3 national Legalized Labors, Imperial World Ladprao, 5th Floor,
Ladprao Road, Wang Tong Lang, Bangkok.

This temporary service will be started from January 13rd, 2014 until the better situation. We apologize for inconvenience.

Many foreign nationals remain in the Kingdom of Thailand on long term visas such as business visas, retirement visas, and marriage visas. Those present in the country for periods longer than 90 days are required to check in with immigration officials. Therefore, the current situation could adversely impact those wishing to travel to immigration offices for their quarterly “90 day check-in”. Furthermore, foreign business owners in Bangkok are likely to have issues not only in procuring government services, but also with logistics as a result of the demonstrations.

Hopefully, the situation in Bangkok will be resolved quickly and peacefully. In the meantime, it may be necessary to schedule extra time when traveling throughout the city and foreign nationals are encouraged to stay away from protest areas. The administration of this blog will continue to post updates regarding this situation as developments evolve.

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