Thailand moves closer to legalising same-sex marriage

Thailand’s lower house has passed a bill which gives legal recognition to same-sex marriage, nudging the country closer to becoming the first South East Asian nation to introduce marriage equality.

The legislation, which was submitted to parliament back in November and passed by 400 of the 415 lawmakers on Wednesday (27 March), must still be approved by the Senate and get royal endorsement from King Maha Vajiralongkorn in order to become officially law. 

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

When presenting the draft bill, MP Danuphorn Punnakanta said: “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.”

Punnakanta added: “We did this for all Thai people to reduce disparity in society and start creating equality.

“I want to invite you all to make history.”

BANGKOK, THAILAND – JUNE 04: People wave rainbow flags during a Pride parade on June 04, 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand. Members of the LGBTQ community and allies take part in a Pride month march through central Bangkok. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

As per reporting by Reuters, LGBTQ+ activists who were on the parliamentary committee during Wednesday’s debate attempted to change the words mother and father for the gender-neutral term ‘parent’, in reference to adoption. 

Nada Chaiyajit, an LGBT advocate and a law lecturer at Mae Fah Luang University told the news agency the fact this was not included leaves some issues unresolved.  

“I’m happy indeed but this isn’t a full marriage equality, it is only same-sex marriage,” Nada said. 

“The right to marriage has been granted but not the full right to family establishment.

“It is a shame that we didn’t go the full way.”

If the bill becomes law, Thailand would become the first country in South East Asia to legalise same-sex marriage and would see it follow fellow Asian nations 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

In October 2023, India’s Supreme Court failed to recognise marriage equality in a heartbreaking ruling after a long and hearty campaign by activists. 

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