Thailand legalises equal marriage in historic first for Southeast Asia

Thailand has become the first Southeast Asian nation to legalise equal marriage, in a move that has been hailed a “well deserved win”.

On Tuesday (18 June), the final reading of the marriage equality bill was approved by Thailand’s Senate with the support of 130 of the 152 members in attendance. Only four voted against the bill, while 18 abstained from voting.

It will now be sent to King Maha Vajiralongkorn to get royal endorsement, after which it will become law 120 days after it’s published in the royal gazette. 

‘It will open so many doors’

The new law describes a marriage union as one between two individuals, rather than a man and a woman. It will allow LGBTQ+ couples to adopt, have equal access to marital tax savings, rights to property and the ability to decide medical treatment when their partner is incapacitated. 

Plaifah Kyoka Shodladd, an 18-year-old activist, said, (as reported by The Guardian): “Although Thailand has been known as the gay paradise or the queer paradise, it was never really the actual paradise for queer people. But once we have this bill it will open so many doors.” 

On social media people have congratulated the country, with one calling the adoption of equal marriage “a well deserved win”. 

Congratulations, Thailand ! https://t.co/wPIlsyvIBz

— Nicole Malapo (@soarhighcole) June 18, 2024

Just to let you all know, they fought for that for a very very long period of time, It was a tough and never ending battle until this time. IT’S A WELL DESERVE WIN! https://t.co/BgrALBL5W0

— AC || (@thatgal_ac) June 18, 2024

In March, MP Danuphorn Punnakanta said when presenting the draft bill “This is the beginning of equality. It’s not a universal cure to every problem but it’s the first step towards equality.

“This law wants to return these rights to this group of people, not grant them the rights.”

Thailand’s move follows fellow Asian countries Tawian and Nepal in recognising marriage equality.  

Taiwan became the first country in the whole of Asia to recognise same-sex unions back in 2019 and was followed by Nepal in 2023

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